Riyadh 18 December 2014 - The UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira last week addressed the first World Cities Day celebration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The national event in Riyadh, co-organized in partnership with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and the Riyadh Development Authority, drew participants from 16 municipalities across the country, as well as numerous representatives from universities, women and youth organizations to discuss urban transformation and the importance of a multi-faceted analysis and understanding of Saudi cities.

The day provided an overview of Saudi Arabia’s preparations for the Third United Nations Human Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016 and the launch of two important Networks for Youth and for Women on Sustainable Urbanization in Saudi Arabia. These Networks will ensure that the knowledge and needs of two key interest groups are addressed and utilized throughout the Programme and in Saudi Arabia’s preparation for Habitat III. The two-day event also included an orientation workshop for the Future Saudi Cities Programme on the UN-Habitat City Prosperity Index methodology and international experiences.

The City Prosperity Index will form the basis of a set of comparable indicators for the participating cities as they strive for sustainable urbanization. Data is already being assessed in the first set of cities of Abha, Bureydah/Aniza, Dammam, and Riyadh. The collected information will form the basis for the forthcoming first State of Saudi Cities Report as well as State of Saudi Youth in Cities Report. The city prosperity indicators will also be fundamental for the monitoring of the new development agenda goals. In her keynote address, Dr. Kacyira emphasized that “through the facilitation of the Future Saudi Cities Programme, the urban planning sector will benefit from the involvement and vision of multiple stakeholders as well as from full use of information and dis-aggregated data on women and men across the dimensions of prosperity.”

The Future Saudi Cities Programme is a four-year Programme jointly implemented by UN-Habitat and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to promote a new urban agenda and capacitate urban actors to address the rapid urbanization occurring in the country.