Saudi Arabia made yesterday a strong pitch before an international audience for hosting the 2030 World Expo in Riyadh, reinforcing the Kingdom’s emphasis on heritage, sustainability, and positioned the capital as the best place to do business, work and live.
The pitch was made by His Excellency Fahd Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC), while addressing a virtual gathering of 170 member countries assembled to kickstart the five-stage bidding process that will conclude with voting in November 2023.
Five contenders, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Italy, the Ukraine, and Russia are in the reckoning for the six-month long event organized by the Paris-based inter-governmental body Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).
RCRC is leading the Kingdom’s bid following the October announcement of the Saudi intention to bid to host the 2030 Expo in Riyadh by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of RCRC.
Delivering a speech on behalf of Saudi Arabia, HE Al-Rasheed said: “The 2030 World Expo in Riyadh will coincide with the culmination of Vision 2030, and it will be an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the achievements of the Vision and share valuable lessons from this unprecedented transformation.”
Al-Rasheed quoted His Royal Highness’s October letter to the BIE: “We live in an era of change, and we face an unprecedented need for humanity’s collective action.” These words, the CEO revealed, inspired the Kingdom’s World Expo 2030 theme: ‘The era of change: Leading the planet to a foresighted tomorrow.’
HE Al-Rasheed portrayed Saudi Arabia’s rich bio-diversity – from vast stunning deserts to the magnificent lush green mountains of Aseer region. Taking the audience on an imaginative excursion, his speech painted a 360-degree tour of the Kingdom – from the corals of the Red Sea to the fascinating heritage sites of Al Ula where ancient trade caravans halted and settled centuries ago, leaving behind a rich repository of inscriptions and rock tombs.
Al-Rasheed recounted how our forefathers transformed vast desert into a center of commerce and dramatically altered the landscape to provide the region with its food basket turning it into an oasis.
Today’s Saudi Arabia, the RCRC CEO added, is an economic powerhouse, a nation of ecological diversity and a young population. “As you can see, Saudi Arabia is not just a G20 economy. It is a country endowed with natural resources, ecological diversity, a young ambitious population, courageous leadership, and a grand plan. It is a country on the move.”
Tracing the evolution of the Saudi capital, he said Riyadh is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, expanding from a small town of 150,000 people in 1950 to nearly 8 million strong today and boasting the world’s 46th largest city economy with a GDP of more than $200 billion.
“Riyadh of 2030 will be a thriving, inclusive, and sustainable city of the future, a preferred destination for businesses and talent, offering world-class education and healthcare while delivering great quality of life for all,” projected Al-Rasheed.
He listed Riyadh’s mega projects designed to propel the capital into the league of see megapolises and turn it into one of the top 10 city economies and an ideal city candidate to host the expo. “… when the calendar announces the advent of the year 2030, Riyadh will be more than ready to host the World Expo. The city itself will be the perfect manifestation of what the World Expo aims to achieve, … bring together the world’s best minds, ideas, and solutions in order to continue humanity’s path of progress,” Al-Rasheed said.
The RCRC CEO also talked about ambitious urban forestry projects and initiatives that aim to reduce energy consumption, recycle water and waste – all designed to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
He stressed that Riyadh’s development was not driven by oil. “… Riyadh’s economy today represents 50 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil GDP… and the city thrived because it opened its doors to people from all over the world, and became an abode to their drive and ambition,” said Al-Rasheed.
The next General Assembly meeting will be held in June 2022 for the second stage of the expo bidding process.