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$92bn plan to make Riyadh greener for Expo 2030  

Riyadh's green spaces will be expanded under the scheme Reuters/Ahmed Yosri
Riyadh's green spaces will be expanded under the scheme
  • City is world’s 75th most polluted
  • 92,000 trees and shrubs planted
  • Transport also improving

Saudi Arabia will invest $92 billion to make Riyadh one of the world’s most sustainable cities by 2030, the kingdom’s tourism minister has said.

Riyadh was awarded hosting rights for the 2030 World Expo, an event Dubai staged to widespread acclaim in 2021-2022 following a one-year delay due to the pandemic.

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s tourism vice-minister, told the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, held in Dubai as part of Cop28, that the money would in part be spent expanding Riyadh’s green spaces.

Already this year, 92,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in the Saudi capital’s Qurtubah neighbourhood.

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Transportation minister Saleh Al-Jasser detailed other initiatives aimed at reducing Riyadh’s environmental footprint. These include expanding remote work by state employees and shifting to less carbon intensive transport modes through greater use of the city’s public train and bus services.

Al-Jasser also said Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to participate in aviation carbon offsetting and reduction schemes.

According to IQAir, which collates and standardises data to rank urban air pollution worldwide, Riyadh was the 75th most polluted city globally as of 13:09 GMT on Monday; Dubai was 27th.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Saudi Green Initiative in 2021. It has set numerous targets and standards to boost energy efficiency. These cover 90 percent of home and building energy consumption.

The scheme has made home and street lighting 80 percent more efficient and split air conditioners 57 percent more efficient, a press statement says.

Energy consumption per washing machine and refrigerator has fallen by 60 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Saudi Arabia’s National Energy Services Co has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 3.9 millions tonnes per year through widespread building efficiency programmes, the statement adds.

The kingdom has the eighth highest CO2 emissions per capita worldwide, according to the World Bank.

Qatar is first, Bahrain ranks second, while Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are fourth, fifth and sixth highest for emissions respectively.

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