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Saudi Arabia to invest $133 billion in transport to become global logistics centre

Kingdom plans 300 projects, including new flagship airline, to expand the sector by 2030

Saudi Arabia plans to invest more than 500 billion riyals ($133bn) by 2030 to expand its transport sector as part of a strategy to make the kingdom a global logistics centre.

The Arab world's biggest economy has plans for more than 300 projects in transport and logistics through partnerships with the local and international private sector.

They include launching a new flagship airline, expanding airports, enlarging its railway network, increasing ports' capacity and investing in cutting-edge public transport technology, Saudi government officials said on Monday.

The kingdom is aiming to more than triple the number of annual passengers through its airports in the next nine years, said Abdulaziz Al Duailej, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

It will increase airports' capacity to 330 million passengers a year by 2030, up from 103 million in 2019, Mr Al Duailej said.

He was speaking at an event detailing Saudi Arabia's National Strategy for Transport and Logistics that was announced last week.

It aims to boost the contribution of the transport and logistics sectors to gross domestic product to 10 per cent by 2030, up from 6 per cent.

The move is part of the kingdom's broader vision to diversify its economy, develop its non-oil sector, create jobs, attract foreign investment and draw high-skilled talent.

The new strategy will help Saudi Arabia meet its targets of hosting 100 million tourists and 30 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, Mansour Al Turki, Saudi's deputy minister of planning and information, said.

The strategy calls for expanding the kingdom's air links to 250 destinations, from 99 routes currently, and doubling its air cargo capacity to more than 4.5 million tonnes.

The private sector will play an increasingly important role in the aviation sector, particularly in building, operating and managing airports in the kingdom, Mr Al Duailej said.

The GACA will continue to push for the privatisation of airport companies to make the assets work on a commercial basis while it focuses on its role as an aviation regulator, he said.

With railways, the strategy aims to boost capacity to 25 million passengers and 36 million tonnes of freight by 2025.

It will increase the network to 8,080 kilometres, from 5,330km currently, said Bashar Al Malik, chief executive of Saudi Railway.

"We invite the private sector to contribute to this ambitious plan," Mr Al Malik said.

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