The Kingdom of Saudi is one of the most urbanized countries in the world. 8/10 people here live in urban areas. The New Urban Agenda encourages National Urban forums for qualitative and quantitative implementation of global goals.  The Saudi Urban Forum offered a great opportunity for the localization of sustainable development goals. The event organized by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) and Supported by UN-Habitat ran the course of three days, from the 15th of October 2018 to the 17th of October 2018), carried the theme “The Role of Urban Planning in Achieving Saudi Vision 2030”.

Over 70 speakers took various platforms to share their expertise and experiences with sustainable solutions and challenges working within their communities. The Forum provided a framework for local authorities, experts, civil society and citizens at all levels to engage in a conversation about sustainable solutions for a better future for Saudi cities. professionals, decision-makers and stakeholders interested in discussing the future of Saudi cities in modern fields including urban planning, environment, legislations, urban management and community engagement, with a review of the best international practices by the speakers, decision-makers and experts.

This Forum is expected to have a positive impact on the planning and management of Saudi cities, transforming them into more competitive, sustainable and vital cities and achieving the aspirations and expectations of people and decision-makers.

A vibrant conversation on “New Urban Planning Trends “kicked off the forum. It reiterated the importance of learning from global best practices. “It is important to have a good urban plan but it is also important to have the tool to monitor this plan in the long run “ ENG. Tarek Al Fares, Mayor of Riyadh Region.

Different trainings were offered throughout the forum to equip participants sustainable planning skills as well as encourage debate. Close to 180 people participated in workshops. Women and children stole the show by engaging in exercises such as Minecraft workshop and the parklet competitions.

The Minecraft workshop gave a group of girls and boys an opportunity to put forward their priorities in a local market space within Riyadh. They were able to make inclusive decisions in their planning such as including disability ramps and braille marked paths for easy navigation for visually impaired individuals. Young Saudi women made presentations on creating parklets specific to Saudi cities bearing in mind locally available materials as well as climate conditions. One young lady went as far as to create an outdoor library where citizens could read and exchange books for free.

The last 3 decades have seen rapid urbanization and infrastructure development of Saudi cities. The attendance of different players of governance showcase a willingness to bring improvements to the quality of life of Saudi Citizens.

The Future Saudi Cities Program supports the targets of the National Transformation Program (NTP) in alignment with Vision 2030 in a bid to strike a balance between preserving natural resources and economic growth.

Read more: Saudi Urban Forum 2018 Newsletter