Saudi Arabia to spend $800m on land for Riyadh Metro
Saudi Arabia plans to spend about $800m acquiring land in Riyadh to build the capital's first metro rail system, Reuters has reported.
Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan, president of the Arriyadh Development Authority, the state body handling the project, was quoted as saying: “This is already budgeted and we are talking about 3bn riyals ($800m) compensation for the land to be acquired.
"The land is already chosen and the teams already started the process three months ago."
The government awarded $22.5 billion in contracts last week to three foreign consortiums for the design and construction of the rail system.
The project will involve six rail lines extending 176km and carrying electric, driverless trains.
Design work will start immediately and construction will begin in the first quarter of 2014, with the project expected to be completed in 2019.
Al Sultan said land would be acquired for the metro in 35 locations but he did not expect the purchases to disrupt Riyadh's real estate market.
"We are keeping the process of acquiring all land needed for the project to a minimum, so that it will not affect the huge market of Riyadh," he told the news agency.
Asked how the Riyadh metro would be financed, and whether the authority might issue Islamic bonds to fund it, Al Sultan said that when King Abdullah announced the government's budget surplus last year, he allocated $53.3bn (200bn riyals) of it for public transport systems in general.