The Riyadh Development Authority is the entity responsible for the planning and development of Ar-Riyadh city from the economic, social, cultural, constructional and environmental aspects. It draws up plans and procedures aimed at improving the standards of services and facilities provided for the city residents.

Riyadh Development Authority
PO Box 94501
Riyadh 11614
Saudi Arabia
Tel: +966-1-4883331
Fax: +966-1-4829331
Internet:
www.arriyadh.com


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This archived article was published in February 2005
First local election underway in Saudi Arabia
but women voters will have to wait until 2009

After several postponements, Saudi Arabia’s first local elections began on 10 February 2005. However, the elections are modest in scope and, when constituted, the local councils will only have limited powers. Women are excluded from the vote and half of the 1,184 council seats will be occupied by appointees. Saudi authorities claim that women were excluded for ‘technical reasons’. “Too few women have the necessary ID cards and there are not enough female elections officials to register women voters.” One Saudi minister said that women would definitely be allowed to vote in 2009.

Voting is taking place in three stages, beginning on 10 February 2005 in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Voting in the rest of the country will be on 3 March and 21 April. Half the members of the to be formed 178 municipal councils will be government appointees. With no political parties permitted, all candidates must stand as independents and use their own money for campaigning. Despite these restrictions there is no shortage of candidates, some of whom have been spending vast amounts of money to attract the attention of voters.

In Riyadh itself some 700 candidates compete for just seven council seats, while in Greater Riyadh more than 1,800 hopefuls contest 127 seats. However, while there is no shortage of contenders, interest among voters has been lukewarm at best. In the Saudi capital only 25 per cent of eligible men have registered to vote. Voter registration in other parts of the Kingdom is reported to run between 40 and 50 per cent.

Once elected, councillors will be able to discuss bread and butter issues such as garbage collection, street lighting and sewage disposal but any political debates will definitely not be on the agenda.


Saudi Arabia postpones first
local elections to spring 2005
Saudi Arabia has announced it has postponed municipal elections, originally scheduled for the autumn of 2004, to February 2005. The Saudi government's decision to hold municipal elections was described by observers as the first tangible political reform act in the Kingdom.

Although only half the country’s 14 councils' members will be elected, the statement by the Saudi cabinet represents a major step for Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that has an unelected national advisory body, but no parliament. Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, ordered government bodies to complete, within one year, all necessary procedures for the elections.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the press that the Saudi leaders were not experimenters. ?They are only seeking to do what is the wish of the Saudi citizen and we definitely have reached the stage of development where the participation of the citizens of Saudi Arabia is a requirement," the minister said.

In a statement the Saudi cabinet added that in May 2003 King Fahd had already stressed his desire for the expansion of political participation of the country’s citizens.

In his speech, made following the Riyadh explosions on 12 May 2003, the King vowed to expand the base of people's participation and to open up new prospects to recruit women in Saudi Arabia. The King also vowed to continue political and social reforms in his country and fighting terrorism. He explained that this operation was not a result of foreign pressure.

King Faisal Charity Foundation, Riyadh

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city
Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia is located at the centre of the country. The city is 600 meters above sea level. The name Riyadh is derived from the Arabic word meaning a place of gardens and trees (‘rawdah’). With many ‘wadis’ (a former water course, now dry) in the vicinity, Riyadh has been since antiquity a fertile area set in the heartland of the Arabian peninsula.

In half a century, Riyadh has developed from a small walled town to a thriving dynamic metropolis. The urban plan for the city is divided into two phases, which together will develop an area of 1782 square kilometers, approximately three times the area of Singapore. The first phase of Riyadh urban plan covers the current borders of the city and the second phase covers an additional area of 1150 square kilometers. Riyadh has become one of three major urban areas in Saudi Arabia along with the urban area of Makkah and Jeddah in the Makkah region, and the urban area of Dhahran, Dammam, and Al-Khobar in the eastern region. Riyadh is one of the fastest growing and most prosperous cities in the world. In less than half a century, it has grown from 20,000 to its present size of 1.8 million inhabitants. The greater urban area of Riyadh is home to more than four million people.