U.N. says Jeddah a growing economic city

Statistics revealed the number of cities in the Kingdom has drastically increased during the past 30 years

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The UN Human Settlements Program considers Jeddah a growing economic city due to its swift but sustainable development, Al-Hayat reported.

The Urban Observatory held a meeting on Tuesday with UN experts to discuss the future strategy for expanding the Kingdom’s urban life without compromising the health of the environment.

UN Human Settlements Program Gulf Countries Regional Head Tariq Al-Sheikh said the statistics revealed the number of cities in the Kingdom has drastically increased during the past 30 years.

“In 1963, there were only 85 cities in the Kingdom. In 2004, the number of cities in the Kingdom increased to 258. In 2010, the Kingdom had four cities with over 1 million residents. These cities were: Jeddah, Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah,” said Al-Sheikh.

He added 85 percent of the Kingdom’s population resides in urban cities.

“In 2014, the population of people living in cities all countries of the world was calculated at 3.5 billion people. Experts expect an increase reaching up to 5 billion city residents by the year 2030. In other words, 60 percent of the world’s population live in cities,” said Al-Sheikh.

He also said the problem with the urban life is cities consume 67 percent of the world’s energy and they are the number one contributors to the issue of climate change.

“The Kingdom had set a strategic architectural plan to urban expansion in 2000. The plan predicted population density and an expediting flow of civil development. The plan also tried to combat architectural erosion and promote harmonious designs,” said Al-Sheikh.

He added Jeddah is one of the urban cities that witness a swift transformation.

“The infrastructure and civil services of the city has improved. The average standard of life has improved for Jeddah residents. The city has a future of becoming one of the world’s largest economic cities. There are a number of active industries and source of income in Jeddah such as tourism, transportation, logistic services, education, health care, funding and retail,” he further said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 28, 2015.