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Riyadh Ranks Amongst Top 15 Fastest Growing Cities Globally
Riyadh Ranks Amongst Top 15 Fastest Growing Cities Globally

Riyadh is projected to be one of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the world by 2033, according to a report by Savills.

Riyadh is the only non-Asian city on the top 15 list, and its growth is driven by an expected 26% population growth from 5.9 million to 9.2 million over the next 10 years. 

This helps position Riyadh as a major regional business and tourism hub, attracting significant foreign investment in line with Vision 2030.

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Riyadh’s Meteoric Rise

The Savills Growth Hubs Index, a comprehensive analysis of the renowned British property consultancy firm, meticulously evaluates cities based on key metrics: economic expansion, wealth generation, and population growth. 

Image Credit Savills

By projecting these critical factors over the next decade, the Index identifies the urban centers poised for unprecedented growth and development and positions Riyadh, the dynamic capital of Saudi Arabia, as among the world’s top 15 fastest-growing urban centers.

Riyadh’s Growth Hubs Index

Image Credit Savills Research

The Savills Growth Hubs Index, which has positioned Riyadh among the top 15 fastest-growing cities by 2033, is a testament to the broader global trends shaping urban development. 

Asian cities, with their emphasis on tech-driven growth, planned infrastructure investment, and strategies to improve connectivity and business competitiveness, dominate the rankings, securing a combined 12 spots out of the top 15.

China and India, two economic powerhouses, claim five cities each in the prestigious list. At the same time, Vietnam secures two positions, and the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia each contribute one town to the index. 

This distribution underscores the shifting global dynamics and the emergence of new economic centers, with Riyadh proudly representing the Middle East as a rising star worldwide.

Riyadh’s Demographic Dividend

Its expanding population is one of the primary catalysts that propel Riyadh’s meteoric rise. Projections indicate a staggering 26% surge in the city’s population, with the current 5.9 million residents expected to swell to an impressive 9.2 million by 2033. 

Image Credit KAFD

Moreover, Riyadh boasts a remarkably youthful demographic, with a staggering 67% of its population under 35. This dynamic cohort represents a vast reservoir of untapped potential poised to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic vitality in the years to come. 

As Richard Paul, Head of Professional Services & Consultancy Middle East at Savills, said, “The employment potential and ultimate spending power of this segment of the population over the next decade are enormous.”

Magnetic Pull of Riyadh

Image Credit AFP

Riyadh’s emergence as a global growth hub has not gone unnoticed by international investors. The city’s allure has translated into a remarkable surge in foreign direct investment (FDI).

Figures from the Saudi General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT) reveal a 5.6% year-on-year increase in FDI inflows during the first quarter of 2024, reaching an impressive $2.5 billion (SAR 9.5 billion).

This influx of foreign capital underscores the confidence of global investors in Riyadh’s growth potential and catalyzes further economic expansion and job creation. 

As Darwish aptly notes, 

“Riyadh is experiencing a remarkable surge in corporate interest, with over 180 foreign companies establishing their regional headquarters in the city in 2023, surpassing the initial target of 160. This growing confidence reflects the robust potential of the Saudi capital.”

Transformation of Riyadh

8 Riyadh Ranks Amongst Top 15 Fastest Growing Cities GloballyImage Credit Vision 2030

One of the key pillars of Vision 2030 is the Regional Headquarters Program, a strategic initiative aimed at attracting multinational corporations to establish their regional headquarters within the Kingdom, particularly in Riyadh. 

This program offers many incentives, including a 30-year exemption on corporate income tax and withholding tax related to headquarters activities, discounts, and support services.

Image Credit Rothschild Co

The allure of these incentives has proven irresistible, with over 180 foreign companies, including Rothschild & Co., Knight Frank, IHG Hotels & Resorts, JLL, and Northern Trust Corp, having already established their regional headquarters in Riyadh by 2023, surpassing the initial target of 160. 

Image Credit EY

During the first quarter of 2024 alone, over 120 international firms, including EY, Goldman Sachs, Adobe, and Boeing, obtained licenses to relocate their regional headquarters to the Kingdom, marking a staggering 477 percent year-on-year increase.

Riyadh’s Flourishing Office Market

Image Credit KAFD

The surge in corporate interest and the relocation of regional headquarters to Riyadh have catalyzed a remarkable transformation in the city’s office market. 

Image Credit Servcorp

Considering this trend, Servcorp, a top global provider of high-quality flexible office spaces, has already opened a new office in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District.

As multinational corporations seek to establish their presence in this thriving metropolis, the demand for premium office spaces has skyrocketed, fueling a construction boom and driving innovation in the commercial real estate sector.

Ramzi Darwish, head of Savills in Saudi Arabia, aptly encapsulates this phenomenon, stating, 

“The 30-year tax relief for regional headquarters, expanding market, and promising prospects are attracting international companies and reinforcing Riyadh’s position as a vital regional hub for leading businesses across diverse industries.”

Reshaping Riyadh’s Skyline

Image Credit Vision 2030

To accommodate its expanding population and cater to the needs of its thriving business community, Riyadh has embarked on an ambitious program of mega-projects that are redefining the city’s skyline and infrastructure. 

Image Credit New Murabba

Among these transformative endeavors is the New Murabba mixed-use property development. This sprawling complex promises to elevate Riyadh’s status as a world-class destination for living, working, and leisure.

Image Credit BACS

Furthermore, the city is constructing a state-of-the-art metro system. This vital transportation network will alleviate traffic congestion and enhance connectivity and accessibility for residents and visitors. 

These infrastructural investments are crucial to ensuring that Riyadh remains a livable and sustainable city as it continues its upward trajectory.

Riyadh’s Bid for Global Events

Image Credit Expo 2030

As Riyadh solidifies its position as a global growth hub, the city is also setting its sights on hosting prestigious international events, further amplifying its visibility and prestige on the world stage. 

Image Credit FIFA

In a testament to its ambition, Riyadh has submitted bids to host the World Expo 2030 and the FIFA World Cup 2034, events that would showcase the city’s world-class infrastructure and hospitality and catalysts for further economic growth and tourism development.

Quality of Life in Riyadh

Image Credit FIFA

While economic growth and infrastructure development are paramount, Riyadh’s leadership recognizes the importance of enhancing the city’s livability and quality of life. 

Initiatives are underway to improve public spaces, expand green areas, and promote sustainable urban development, ensuring that Riyadh remains an attractive destination for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.

Riyadh’s Bright Future 

Image Credit HOK

As the world enters a new era of economic dynamism and urban transformation, Riyadh stands tall as a beacon of growth and opportunity.

With an expanding population, a youthful demographic, and an ambitious vision for economic diversification and infrastructure development, Riyadh is poised to become a preeminent global business hub, attracting talent, investment, and innovation from around the world. 

Transformative Projects in Riyadh

New Murabba

Image Credit New Murabba

The most recent video demonstrates significant advancements in the construction of the New Murabba, the largest contemporary downtown in northwest Riyadh. 

A remarkable 5 million cubic tonnes of soil have already been removed, and the project is making notable headway. 

This ambitious venture covers an area of 19 square kilometers and will include the distinctive cube-shaped Mukaab at its heart, capable of holding 20 Empire State Buildings.

King Salman Park

Image Credit King Salman Park

King Salman Park, the largest urban park in the world, is scheduled to open in 2024, covering a total area of 16 square kilometers. 

The park includes 11 square kilometers of greenery and water features in the heart of Riyadh. 

Image Credit King Salman Park

Its major attractions will be a Royal Arts Complex, an equestrian center, an 850,000 square meter Royal golf course, and the city’s first sky diving center. 

In addition, the park will offer over 2,000 hotel rooms and aims to elevate the quality of life in the city, following the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, thereby improving Riyadh’s global ranking.

AL-URUBAH Park

Image Credit RCRC

The Royal Commission for Riyadh City has recently announced the construction of one of the biggest parks in the city, Al-Uruba Park

This park, spanning over 754,000 square meters, will include a 3-kilometer long panoramic path, standing 12 meters high, specifically designed to offer breathtaking views of Riyadh. 

Image Credit RCRC

The park’s landscape will be adorned with more than 600,000 trees and shrubs, covering 65% of its total area. 

Al-Uraba Park is a significant part of the Green Riyadh Program, which has set a goal to plant 7.5 million trees in Riyadh to reduce the city’s temperature and air pollution levels, ultimately making it one of the world’s most desirable places to live.

Riyadh Sports Boulevard

Image Credit Sports Boulevard Foundation

The Riyadh Sports Boulevard has been designed to be the longest linear park in the world, to connect the Wadi Hanifa in the western part of Riyadh to the Wadi Al Sulai in the eastern part of the city, spanning a total distance of 135km. 

This project aims to transform Riyadh into one of the world’s most livable and healthy cities. The development plans to include various pathways, bike lanes, and horse riding trails, covering a vast area of 4.4 million square meters of green spaces. 

The impressive initiative will also consist of 8 exceptional districts, such as an athletics district, an entertainment district, and an arts district.

Riyadh Rise Tower

Image Credit North Pole Project Riyadh

Saudi Arabia Holding Co. has unveiled its plans for the Rise Tower, which is set to become the world’s tallest skyscraper in Riyadh, surpassing even the renowned Burj Khalifa. The unveiling of Rise Tower’s plans is a significant component of the broader North Pole Project in Riyadh.

Rise Tower is anticipated to exceed 828 meters to outshine the Burj Khalifa. There are speculations that Rise Tower might ascend to a staggering 2 kilometers, doubling the Burj Khalifa’s current height.

With these transformative projects, Riyadh is transforming into a city known for its accessibility and quality of life to become among the world’s top 10 cities with an investment of $1 trillion over the next seven years.

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