Saudi Arabia is on track to doubling investment in its road infrastructure in 2011.

There are currently more than $6.3bn-worth of road projects either planned or under way in Saudi Arabia, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects.

In 2010, Saudi Arabia awarded $1.6bn of road projects. So far in 2011, the kingdom has awarded contracts worth a total of $1.2bn for roads and related infrastructure. A further $1.8bn-worth of projects is currently under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bid and are due for award this year.

This year’s investment represents a five-year high for Saudi Arabia. In 2009, there was $1.1bn worth of road projects awarded, which are all now under execution. In 2008, $1.5bn-worth of road projects were awarded and in 2007, there was $1.4bn-worth of road projects.

Saudi Arabia’s investment in roads
Year Total contract awards $ bn Pending
2007 1.4 n/a
2008 1.5 n/a
2009 1.1 n/a
2010 1.6 n/a
2011 1.2 $1.8bn
Source: MEED Projects

No projects are currently on hold or cancelled, according to MEED Projects, highlighting the importance of developing infrastructure to the Saudi government. The vast majority of road projects are taking place in Riyadh. However, other provinces, including Medina, Mecca, Hail, Jizan and Al-Sharqiyah are also benefiting from investment into roads.

The kingdom’s ninth National Development Plan (NDP) outlines plans to spend $385bn on developing its infrastructure up to 2014. Of this, about $29.6bn has been set aside for road development. In the current budget, Saudi Arabia’s Transport Ministry has allocated SR11.3bn ($3bn) for the construction of 389 new road projects, which will have a total length of 6,600 kilometres. The ministry has also earmarked SR750m for road maintenance and SR50m for conducting feasibility and design studies for 2,762km of new roads.

Several new projects from the current budget are scheduled for the Mecca province. They include the fourth phase of the Jeddah ring road, the expansion of the Taif-Sail Al-Kabir road. Contracts are also scheduled to be awarded for the second phase of the Bisha-Kharma road, the Uqbat Muhammadiya Road and the Um Al-Zella to Hawiya Nemar road.

The upgrade and development of roads in the kingdom is crucial in supporting the major transport projects that Saudi Arabia has planned, including the Medina International airport, Jeddah International airport, numerous rail projects and its ports.

The Transport Ministry has stated that several new projects are planned for the eastern province that will facilitate access between rural areas and major urban centres. These will include the Dammam-Abuhadriya-Hafr al-Baten-Ruqae road and the Safwa to Rahemma road, which will be linked to the Dammam to Jubail Expressway.

Eight new road projects are scheduled for the Southern Asir province in 2011. These will include completing the Hail to Medina two-way road and the construction of the Wohaiba to Samiraa road.