Saudi Arabia plans to raise 135 billion riyals ($36 billion) for transportation-infrastructure projects over the next 11 years, as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul the economy of the world’s top oil-exporting nation, Transport Minister Nabeel Al Amudi said.
The transport investments, funded by a mix of government and private spending, would be “split between various sectors — airports, railways, ports and roads, with the bulk being spent on railways,” Al Amudi said in an interview Monday. It’s part of a sweeping, 1.6 trillion-riyal plan announced on Saturday to expand Saudi Arabia’s industrial capacity and transportation underpinnings by 2030.
The push marks the latest effort by the biggest Arab economy to break its reliance on crude sales for government income. Saudi Arabia on Monday announced 29 additional agreements worth $960 million at an event in Riyadh, according to a government statement.
Foreign investors are already integrated into the ports, and the sector will continue to evolve, Al Amudi said. DP World Ltd. signed a letter of intent to develop a container station at Jeddah Islamic Port on Monday.
The government is re-evaluating its privatization program for airports “to better balance between the various entities involved in the aviation sector,” Al Amudi said. Once the new structure is approved, “we will be tendering various airports at the right time for private-sector involvement.”
Toll roads won’t occur in Saudi Arabia before 2021, he said. Officials have identified six potential roads, “and these are both greenfield and brownfield,” he said. “Once that’s approved, we will be launching that in the private sector, domestic and international,” with private-sector maintenance and operation.
Al Amudi said he hopes that the Land Bridge — a railway project connecting Jeddah and Riaydh that will cost 50 billion to 60 billion riyals — “can get moving in the next few months, maybe by the end of the year.” The project is expected to be mostly government funded.