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Free Metro rides would boost net zero goal, says World Bank

Riyadh Metro Egis Group
Years in development, Riyadh Metro is due for completion in April
  • Saudi Arabia uses 900,000 barrels of oil a day for transportation
  • The Riyadh Metro is set to open in April with 85 stations
  • World Bank chief says free rides would cut Riyadh’s transport oil use

Making the Riyadh Metro free for passengers when it launches this year would be a great way to encourage Gulf residents to be more sustainable, while also helping to achieve ambitious net zero targets, according to a senior World Bank official.

Issam Abousleiman, director of GCC countries, the Middle East and North Africa at The World Bank, pointed out that the GCC uses approximately 5 million barrels of oil per day for domestic use.

Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Economic Summit, he added that each day Saudi Arabia uses 900,000 barrels of oil to transport people and goods, with Riyadh alone using 300,000 barrels for this purpose.

“There is a huge net value in accelerating the transformation across the GCC,” Abousleiman said. “Just imagine if you were able to save those barrels of oil each day. You can do the maths.”

Abousleiman highlighted the Riyadh Metro, scheduled to open this April, as a perfect example of the savings that could be made, both financially and environmentally.

The $22.5 billion transport system will consist of six metro lines spanning 176km, with 85 stations.

According to Abousleiman, moving the needle forward through methods such as encouraging more public transport use is where “smart economics meets sustainability”.

“In my opinion they should introduce it at zero cost to users,” said Abousleiman. “They might be able to save a big part of the 300,000 barrels per day.”

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have set a target of 2060 to reach net zero. The UAE has committed to this target by 2050, along with Oman and Israel.

A report from S&P Global Ratings said Saudi and the UAE have led climate-related efforts in the GCC and their governments intend to continue investing in decarbonising the power sector. 

“The power sector looms large in most national plans for decarbonisation,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Terry Ellis. “We expect the region to invest significantly in renewables as the decade progresses.”