Riyadh in the Big Apple: UN plays host to showcase of Saudi capital
The UN in New York is set to host a four-day event showcasing the development of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh
The UN in New York is set to host a four-day event showcasing the social, economic, environmental, cultural and urban development of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.
Dubbed “A Day in Riyadh,” the event is set to run from Sept. 26-30, in conjunction with the 71st regular session of the UN General Assembly.
It will highlight Riyadh’s journey of development as well as its future challenges. Besides de-mystifying the city, the event will also boost cooperation between the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), named after the region in which Riyadh is located, and UN experts, agencies and development programs.
It “is a unique event and will help clear many misconceptions that Americans and the international media have of the Kingdom,” said Oubai Shahbandar, senior consultant with Qorvis MSL Group, the public relations company working with the ADA to promote the event.
“Diplomats, media and everyday people from around the world will see the human element of the Kingdom that is not readily depicted in the Western press,” he added to Al Arabiya English.
This burgeoning youth demographic has spurred the need for vast projects, including the King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport, which includes a metro and bus network, and is designed to relieve traffic congestion in the city. The project is a main feature of the event, with a panel discussion dedicated to it on Sept. 29.
“Riyadh’s experience in managing the exceptional growth of the city will offer developmental lessons and tools for other cities in the world,” Shahbandar noted.
The development of Riyadh’s infrastructure is being driven by the Metropolitan Development Strategy for Arriyadh Region (MEDSTAR), the strategic referential plan that regulates the future development of the city.
Visitors to the event will learn more about MEDSTAR’s urban development guide which maps 20 years into the future.
Aside from the urban landscape, the ADA is also focusing on conserving the city’s desert environment.
The valley of Wadi Hanifah was declared an environmental reserve in 1987, but work is ongoing to ensure its protection and develop it into a natural drainage course for Riyadh.
Wadi Hanifah’s significance will feature in Sept. 28’s panel discussion “A Sustainable & People-Friendly City.”
The event will feature a two-part session on Riyadh’s cultural aspects, rich heritage and community.
On Sept. 30, speakers will discuss the participation of women in the development of the city, and shed light on the capital’s historic sites and antiquities as it hosts unique buildings, old quarters, palm gardens, farms and agricultural areas.
“Attracting international private sector investment to the Kingdom is a critical component of Vision 2030,” Shahbandar said, referring to the recently announced reform plan of economic and social policies designed to free the country from dependence on oil exports.
To that end, the event “will display the energetic human capital, community friend plans, commitment to sustainable development that make Riyadh one of the world’s most attractive cities for investment, while preserving its heritage and culture.”
In addition to a slew of panel discussions, visitors can also learn about the capital via video shows, 3D models, and a specially prepared documentary that highlights Riyadh’s key achievements and challenges.