Saudi Minister of Transport Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi said the Kingdom will reveal a number of major economic and investment projects related to the transportation and logistics sector.
Sitting down for an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he highlighted Tuesday’s inauguration of hall no.1 in the King Abulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz will sponsor the event. The facility will service the Makkah region.
“Everyone knows that this project has been in the works for a long time. The inauguration will raise the quality of services at the airport and transform Jeddah into an air transport platform,” said Al-Amoudi.
“We acknowledge that the current airport in Jeddah is not up to national standards, but the new project will introduce a qualitative shift,” he added.
The project encompasses 46 gates and can accommodate 70 airplanes at a time.
The minister also spoke of logistic platforms that will soon be set up in the cities of al-Dammam and Jeddah in line with Vision 2030.
Logistic platforms take advantage of existing infrastructure, such as airports, railways, roads and ports. The private sector will be invested in developing the logistics services, including the packaging of products and preparation for distribution, and other shipping services, he explained.
He also spoke of the Special Economic Zone, which is a broader concept and that can be set up in any state-designated region.
Al-Amoudi noted the Special Economic Zone in the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.
The private sector will soon have opportunities to invest in these zones. These areas will enjoy special privileges, such as customs exemptions, he revealed.
Future projects, include establishing of a logistics platform in Al Khomrah region near the Jeddah Islamic Seaport within two months. The area would be leased to investors and companies for setting up warehouses and other services.
Another logistic platform, near the King Abdulaziz Seaport in al-Dammam, will be set up before the end of the year.
Moreover, he said Saudi ports have a capacity that exceeds the local demand by more than 50 percent. This encourages the establishment of logistics platforms and Special Economic Zones.
Turning to land transportation, Al-Amoudi revealed that the King Fahd Causeway Authority will appoint advisers to study the bridge project that will run parallel to the King Fahd Causeway that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain.
The private sector will tackle this project, revealed the minister.
Asked about the Kingdom’s implementation of road tolls, he said his ministry, in line with Vision 2030, is studying ideas and ways to raise the efficiency of roads in the country.
So far, preliminary studies have been made about the best way to impose tolls on some roads in the future. All roads that are taxable will have alternative roads that are not, he went on to say. Of course, the toll-free roads will be longer.
Imposing such fees will ultimately help improve the quality of these roads, he stressed.
Such a project will take time and requires more support from the government. Further studies are needed, as well as government decisions. The plan will not be implemented in the near future, Al-Amoudi said.
Commenting on railway projects, Al-Amoudi said the railway sector is one of the most important in the Kingdom.
Current systems cover 4,500 kilometers of the country.
He noted the inauguration last year of the Haramain High Speed Railway and highlighted the importance of trains in the mining sector where they are used in the delivery of phosphates and aluminum in the country.
Future train projects will aim to connect all the regions of the Kingdom to the railway system, he revealed. The “backbone” of this system is the line that connects the Red Sea ports to Riyadh and al-Dammam.
Al-Amoudi also underscored the efforts to connect Saudi Arabia to Gulf countries.
“We are currently in the first phase of creating a link with the United Arab Emirates,” he revealed.