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RIYADH – Reuters: The Saudi Minister of Transport said late yesterday that the kingdom will invest more than 500 billion riyals ($133.34 billion) in airports, seaports, railways and other infrastructure facilities by the end of this decade, in an effort to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for transport and services. logistics.
He also said that about 35% of these investments will be from the government and the rest from the private sector. He added that many of these targeted projects are economically feasible and can be financed by banks, noting that this plan “will provide great opportunities for partnership with the private sector, whether local or international.” It is noteworthy that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading an economic diversification program to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil revenues and create jobs, revealed last Tuesday few details of a transport and logistics strategy that he said was being prepared.
The Minister of Transport, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, told a press conference that the strategy includes many giant projects and allocates more than 500 billion riyals for investment.
This strategy is the latest economic policy to put Saudi Arabia in competition with the United Arab Emirates, the center of business, trade and tourism in the region.
Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, President of the Civil Aviation Authority, said in the press conference that Saudi Arabia plans to increase the number of international flight routes from 99 to more than 250, and to increase the total annual passenger traffic to more than threefold from 103 million in 2019 to 330 million by 2030. .
Saudi Arabia’s international network is currently significantly smaller than that of its smaller neighbors the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have large hubs for air passenger traffic.
Al-Duailej said that the annual capacity of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah will both be expanded to 100 million passengers, but he did not give a date.
He added that his country aims to become a global logistics center for air freight, handling 4.5 million tons of air cargo annually, up from 900,000 tons in 2019.
The government earlier announced a new national carrier that will be launched as part of the strategy that aims to make Saudi Arabia the fifth largest global hub for passenger traffic in the world.
Sources familiar with the plans told Reuters that the new airline will target international transit traffic, putting it in direct competition with Gulf giants Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Other airlines in the Kingdom, such as the state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines and its low-cost airline flyadeal, operate mostly domestic services and direct flights between two specific destinations to and from the country of 35 million people.
(A dollar equals 3.7497 Saudi riyals).