The first project involves upgrading and widening the 282-kilometre highway on the east coast, which links the kingdom’s border posts with Qatar and the UAE. The second project is for the construction of a 185-kilometre road from the central province of Qassim to Hail in the north, the first leg of the journey to the Jordanian border. Contracts for the second stretch of the 990-kilometre-long highway, which will end at the border town of Hudaitha, will be awarded at a later date.

The Communications Ministry awarded the contracts to four local companies: Al-Jazeera Company, Abdul Aali Al-Ajami Company, Al-Injaz Trading & Contracting Companyand Arabian Contracting Company.

The government has allocated some SR 20,000 million ($5,400 million) for 3,950 kilometres of new road to be built over the next five years, with the aim of improving transport between major cities and the more remote provinces of Saudi Arabia. The Communications Ministry is working on a prefeasibility study for the largest single project in the programme, a SR 3,000 million ($800 million) motorway from Qassim to Rabigh (MEED 28:6:02).

Saudi Arabia has seen major development of its road systems in the last two decades, and now has more than 50,000 kilometres of paved roads, of which 5,000 kilometres are motorways.