|February 18, 2000|
THE CELEBRATIONS FOR CHOOSING RIYADH CAPITAL OF ARAB CULTURE EMPHASIZE THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF ITS DEVELOPMENT.
RIYADH IS THE MOST POPULATED CITY IN THE ARAB PENINSULA.
If big cities are a feature of the 21st century, then Riyadh, which embraces the largest population in the Arab Peninsula, will become one of the largest cities in the world during the next three decades. This would impose the establishment of enormous financial and administrative facilities for this city in order to fulfil what its inhabitants expects from it.
Located in the dry, desert heartland of central Saudi Arabia, Riyadh derives its name from the Arabic word for garden.
Throughout most of a history stretching back two millenia, Riyadh was no more than a green oasis known for its dates, fruits and vegetables. When King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, his capital covered an area of about one square mile with 30,000 inhabitants. Within three decades, it had grown more than ten fold in size and the population had increased to 200,000. As the Kingdom's socio-economic development picked up pace, Riyadh's growth accelerated. By 1988, it covered 200 square miles and had 1.5 million inhabitants. The latest studies indicate that the city covered more than 600 square miles of land and housed 3.4 million people in September 1999 and the population is projected to reach 4.4 million by the year 2006.
Dr Abdul Al Aziz Ibn Mohamed Ibn Ayaf Al Miqrin Secretary of Riyadh city and the General Secretary of the Supreme Organisation for the development of Riyadh says that during the 18th and the 19th centuries large cities were non-existent as the world population reached one billion in 1804, after 123 years i.e in 1927 it reached 2 billion, then 4 billion in 1974, and 5 billion in 1987 and finally 6 billion in 1999. This means that the increase in the world population is around a billion each ten years.
Cities in Saudi Arabia are growing fast at a ratio of 84%.
According to a study conducted by the administration of research and planning services at the higher commission for the development of Riyadh, the population of Riyadh city will amount to four million by the end of this year and this figure is expected to double by the end of the eight five years plan (we are in the sixth five years plan).
The study pointed out that Riyadh is the fastest growing city in the world in terms of population where the annual growth rate of the population amount to 8.1%.
According to Dr Al Miqrin this would impose the establishment of enormous financial and administrative facilities for this city in order to fulfil what its inhabitants expects from it, and would reflect on the infrastructure of services which should be developed both in quality and quantity.
A blend of the old and the new, contemporary Riyadh has maintained its rich heritage while embracing change. Historic sites such as the Masmak Fortress and the Souq (market) exist side-by-side with super highways, modern buildings, shopping malls and industrial facilities. Museums, libraries, universities and other scientific and cultural institutions combine to make Riyadh uniquely suited to preserve and promote the values and traditions that Saudi Arabia treasures as it seeks to further modernize, diversify and expand its economic base in the new millennium.