Middle East cities to become world leaders in mass transit

Middle Eastern cities will be among the world’s most advanced for public transport in the next 15-20 years according to architects Atkins.

The current high level of planning and investment will bring them on a par with Hong Kong and Singapore according to  Ghassan Ziadat, Atkins’ director of planning and infrastructure.

He  told a conference in Saudi Arabia that clear government direction, through policy and legislation, remains essential to ensure progress in the region’s major cities.

“As new public transportation, particularly metros and light rail, become adopted this enlightenment can only increase, and I firmly believe we’re going to see cars lose their prime status as the favoured method of inner-city transportation in an incredibly short timescale,”  Ziadat  said.

“What we see now in Dubai is a very robust expectation that new developments need to be well integrated into the public transport network, with strong pedestrian access and an attractive public realm – otherwise they won’t be successful.

“This shows a more mature market, and it gives me confidence that we’ll see a similar impact right across the gulf region which will see major centres playing an accelerated catch-up with the most advanced transit cities in the world, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Investment in public transportation in the Middle East over the next 10-15 years is expected to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars with new metro and LRT systems planned or underway in Doha, Riyadh, Makkah, Jeddah, Dammam and Abu Dhabi, while Dubai is to extend its metro system and is launching a new tram network.