A profile of the experience of building
and the modern development of Riyadh City
Dr. Abdullah Al Ali Al-Nuaim
President and Chairman, Board of Trustees of AUDI and former Mayor of Riyadh
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Since his creation, man sought to live in groups. These groups developed into villages which in course of time developed into towns and cities of various sizes, and served as urban centers when civilization began to be witnessed during the ancient times. Their importance became more evident at the time when Islamic civilization began to diffuse in the four corners of the globe. During the nineteenth century the industrial era began to shed every aspect of life: economic, social, and architectural aspects. Geographic territories expanded, the growth in population numbers was so great, the physical features experienced deep changes in urban life, and the inherited social system was deeply affected. During the twentieth century strong signs of city transformation started to show up as a result of the changes that touched industrialization, manpower, and methods of administration. Modern patterns brought about by the new technology, and other elements, caused far-reaching changes in the adaptation approach of the new societies as well as the conformity between the inherited past and the demands of the present. The city was viewed as a large receptacle in which various elements mingled into a new strong consolidated entity that seeks development by hard work to prepare an urban environment for mankind, an environment that can provide him with his present needs and respond to his future aspirations.
People prefer to live in large cities because of the availability of a wide range of opportunities and because they can live the modern style of life they desire. Yet these cities, despite the vast development in all areas, economic, social life, and civilization, are not free of normal or complicated problems, which vary according to the nature of each city, its social and economic situations, and according to its capacity for expansion potentials, land uses, population mobility, migration conditions and the number of migrants to it. Also the success of a city might be one of the factors that attract migrants. These problems, along with others, burdened those responsible for the management of these cities with huge responsibilities and called for benefiting from the advancement in the administrative sciences and leadership approaches so as to be able to encounter the complicated work conditions. Also there is an increasing need for the advanced urban facilities quantitatively and qualitatively, and there is also the necessity to be prepared for technological and scientific advancement.
I will not proceed with the history of cities, the potentials of their progress or methods and reasons for their backwardness. I will not identify them according to their history of geographic conditions, or their political, economic or social significance, population growth, civic planning, technology advancement or other factors that affect the urban sites. I would, if you allow me, just present to you a pioneer step which I initiated and experienced in one of the cities that occupy a prominent place in our Arab region. I may point out the theory or the scientific principle through implementation aspect and the practical reality.
RIYADH CITY EXPERIENCE:
ESTABLISHMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
The speech about Riyadh may seem easy and simple just as its establishment as a small town surrounded by the calm, solitary and serene desert. The speech may go through its history, the events it witnessed and how it became the capital of this great Kingdom through its geographical location at the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and the point of junction of ancient caravans as well as modern roads and air routes. And I may point out its position as a core of civilization that diffuses upon all around it whether near or far. The speech about Riyadh may be about a model for a marvelous achievement of the planning development and an architectural, economic and social development action. But I will only present portions of the experience which, I allow myself to say, was one of the few experiences in the course of establishment of cities, that was full of activities and was lively and energetic.
Several government and private sector agencies collaborated to build up this city; each contributed according to the plan and each exerted all its efforts and thought and the role of the municipality was to coordinate and guide and to encourage in this process. This created an advanced mental and spiritual urban thought, which combined modernization with originality, when responding to the requirements of this age and keenness for the conservation of traditions. What really delights is that the unique endeavor was made when I was mayor of the municipality of Riyadh city and was responsible for its administration. Everything that was accomplished was under my observation and my presence. Some mayors may have spent longer periods but they did not witness their cities develop as I did with Riyadh because their cities might have been established long ago and may have developed through many years.
Riyadh city embarked upon modern urban organization through the preservation of its heritage, which originated from two main principals: one, abide by the Islamic religion as a thought, belief and practice, which is something natural as our country contains the Two Holy Mosques; and two, its location at the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, so its heritage is Arab-Islamic. We believe, thanks to Allah, that we have reached a cherished goal in integrating the modern urban planning into the preservation of our heritage in this desert dry atmosphere.
The ideal city management depended (and depends) upon deep detailed studies and upon benefiting from the specialized organized human power, the enthusiasm of those who are responsible for the job, either citizens who are keen about their country's future for their own or their children, or expatriates from brotherly and friendly countries. We believe in benefiting from others' experiences, where it fits our requirements and where it is in conformity with our society and the nature of our country. To make full use of such experiences we should search and seek the best approaches and means that help improve the life in the city and make available the basic services for the benefit and comfort of the population, which is the main objective and the purpose. It may be worth telling about some peculiarities of the Riyadh experience, how it started, the humanitarian aspects which were followed strictly, and the results that have been encountered.
After two or three months of assuming the responsibility of managing the city, I felt - by inspiration - that this city is anticipated to widen very largely and speedily. I noticed the greater numbers of the public who need to finalize their papers with the authorities in the municipality. The staff was not sufficient for solving all matters and for responding to the requirements of the public. I also noticed how heavy the traffic was within the city and that the capacity of the roads leading to the city center was not sufficient. I thought the best means to tackle all these matters was to disseminate geographically the responsibilities of providing services among a number of branch municipalities headed by young, educated, earnest Saudis who recognize the importance of the job assigned as well as the humanitarian objective aimed to be achieved. Now these branch municipalities are numbering sixteen, and the experience is now well established and seems very suitable. The people in the areas surrounding each branch municipality became used to deal with it as if it is their only municipality and not a branch of the main municipality. This is due to their trust and confidence in those who are responsible. This is a good result of the decentralization system. I do not pretend that I have initiated the system, but I do say that I thought of applying it at the suitable moment and it was applied according to the conditions of Riyadh and its speedy development and geographic expansion. The area of the city now exceeds 1,600 square kilometers. The population increased twofold, to more than 4 million, within just a few years' period. Despite all this, centralization is essential at times for some matters to set the general policies and to ensure coordination and have a comprehensive picture when planning or implementing, and this was exactly what the municipality did. As is known, decentralization was applied in many large cities by one way or another, such as London, Paris or elsewhere. Our experience was applied to Saudi Arabia and friendly cities, and in this regard I may say that Riyadh municipality has a wide range of relations with many metropolises around the world, which enable her to update the experience and benefit from every new idea and to avoid many of the problems that confront big cities, like traffic congestion, scarcity of infrastructure, and pressure upon public services.
Decentralization is evident within the municipality itself or call it delegation of authority among deputy mayors and general directorates. They are assigned executive authority as far as their departments are concerned.
It was decided - since the establishment of branch municipalities - for the Council of Heads of Municipalities to meet once every fortnight. The meetings are headed by the mayor of Riyadh municipality and attended also by deputy mayors. Review is made in these meetings of what has been accomplished; recommendations and projects for rules and regulations are also reviewed, and problems are identified for solutions to be sought out. Heads or representatives of other agencies related to the municipality and its work are also invited to this routine meeting, such as the electricity company, the water authority, Riyadh telecommunications, traffic control, civil defense, and so on. For the past twenty years this meeting is held every first Tuesday of each month. Seeking control and follow-up, the municipality encouraged the earnest, keen citizens to help it and established a cooperative surveillant who is chosen carefully from among the pious, faithful people. The one interested applies for the job, defining the information required about his personality, then he is given an official card with his photo on it. This idea helped greatly in finding out those who do not abide by the rules regarding buildings, cleaning, or not respecting the rules regarding preservation of trees and streets.
People became more daring in checking building offenses and they were not negative, they started reporting, especially when the offense is committed where they live. I remember His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz (may God grant him success) told me once that he saw a driver peeling off the skin of an orange, then throwing it out of his car window; he reached him, and asked him to go back and pick up what he threw. I also once saw at a traffic signal a non-Saudi driver, well dressed and driving a good car, throwing paper tissues out of his car window. I stepped out of my car and approached him with some advice. When the traffic patrol police saw me, he cam quickly and asked me what was the matter. I told him about it, so he asked the driver to park his car and was about to penalize him, but I asked the police to be kind to him and treat him with kindness so that we do not create an enemy out of him. We want him as a friend who tells the story to others.
You all know that cleansing and waste disposal is a big problem that confronts major cities due to their expansion and increase of the waste produced by residential and market areas as well as other areas. If that is so, what would you think it could be in Riyadh: the city that lies in the middle of the desert with the wind blowing sand from all directions, with the building process so active bringing with it huge amounts of waste scrap and garbage with a lot of excavation works which far exceed what is witnessed elsewhere? Cleansing is one of the most important duties of the municipalities. How could the house be clean while the street is not? In improving this dynamic facility we followed several approaches:
1. doubling the efforts of the municipal employees and encouraging those who are responsible for the job;
2. disseminating awareness of the importance of cleansing through schools, mosques, and the media;
3. seeking assistance at the early stages of the project from a number of local contractors, because of the small number of workers employed by the municipality at that time;
4. strictly controlling littering the streets whether from residential or business areas.
Only after the city was so clean, then a contract was signed with an international company reputed for its high quality. Then the companies that took over the contract were 100 percent Saudi companies. In waste disposal, we followed the dumping method as the best suited for our environment and conditions. Several dumping grounds (landfills) became forests at the outskirts of the city.
THIRD: BUILDING REGULATIONS:
This problem may not face the countries with building systems and regulations established long ago, but we faced it here. We thought of making it fair and square and cut it short, so we thought of setting strict building regulations: area, height, structure, and distribution, so as to avoid any exceptions. That was difficult in a city which is growing so fast in buildings and with thousands of migrants from the rural areas. Depending on justice and equality for all people which the law requires, we firmly adhered to the rules. We started by getting people used to it and then control by the employees and cooperative people. We could achieve the goal, the buildings were in order, in harmony and in line with the regulations.
This is one of the problems considered a social issue that faces metropolises around the globe. To us, it is very important because our Islamic religion requires us to support each other and our Arab community is keen on privacy in buildings. This is why most of the houses in Riyadh are in the shape of villas that allow privacy. Lands were granted to those who were in need, and interest-free loans were managed by the Real Estate Development Fund on very easy terms. We adopted horizontal expansion though more expensive in providing services. We were so keen to preserve the architectural heritage to the best of our ability. Roads were widened to avoid traffic jams and provide them with tunnels and bridges over junctions.
Praise be to Allah that we have succeeded in combating the squatter settlements that burdened many of the officials in major cities. That was achieved by constructing new districts provided with all the facilities needed: Eraija and Laban districts are examples.
FIFTH: BEAUTIFICATION AND PLANTING TREES:
One of the special issues that confront Riyadh city is that it lies in the middle of a wide desert. This wasteland sometimes extends to one thousand kilometers. The atmosphere is very dry, tough, with rare water, and arid soil not suitable for growing plants. As is known, the two most important factors for transforming a desert city into a garden city are availability of water and providing the suitable environment. You may just imagine how these factors could be provided in such an atmosphere like the one of Riyadh. Some of the efforts of the municipality in this regard are:-
At the time when the city was so small it relied upon wells for drinking water, the need for water was not so acute, no crofting, no public parks or gardens that need greater amount of water. But when the city expanded and the need for water began to increase, the government resorted to digging deep wells (some reached 1,200 meters) then to bringing desalinated water from Jubail about 500 kilometers away, and thus water was available for human use and irrigation of gardens only.
(B) GARDENS AND LANDSCAPE:
The municipality exerted efforts, and still do, to provide landscape and to increase the number of gardens and parks, to plant trees in the streets, install fountains at public yards and fields. It encouraged people and assisted them in planting their gardens, established gardens and children's playgrounds at various districts. The concern of governmental agencies for growing plants and gardens at their courtyards played a major role in the success of the plan of planting trees.
The number of trees increased greatly in the streets and also the gardens and parks throughout the districts of the city. The municipality owned a number of date-palm orchards and prepared them to be public parks. It concentrated on planting date-palms on the streets and public yards as a means of beautification because the tree is of the same environment and also because it yields fruits and is good for food. We can see more than fifty date-palm trees in the gardens of some houses. It may be rare to see a modern house without a garden or a date-palm tree.
We benefited from the sewage water after purification, to irrigate free of charge the date-palm farms in Wadi Hanifa, Dariyah, Eraqa, and Albatten. This encouraged the people to pay more attention to their orchards, which made the city surrounded with gardens especially on its west side. The purified water also provides the industrial city and Riyadh refinery with their need of water, and that spares some or the amount of water allocated for drinking. The municipality has a scheme to turn this purified water to the north of the city so as to irrigate the public gardens and the traffic islands with a natural flow of water, because the northern part of Riyadh is higher than its southern part. Now, after we made available the two main factors "water and garden" we can say that anyone who enters Riyadh form any direction coming from the desert can easily notice its different atmosphere which is called in a way a micro-climate.
We have underground leaking water for three reasons:
1. watering the house gardens with excess amounts of water;
2. leakage of the water network or in the water tanks of houses, and that is a great lot;
3. leaking water in the areas not yet provided with sewage networks.
The amount of such water is expected to be more than 200,000 cubic meters carried by networks connected to the large main tunnels of Riyadh city, which run south towards Wadi Hanifa, where they join the purified water of the purification plant and form a continuous running stream with relatively clean water. This is a constant water resource.
To make use of this water and create a man-made river in a desert city like Riyadh there is a scheme set up by the Riyadh Development Authority - the Center for Projects and Planning - in cooperation with the municipality, to clean the river bed and banks, provide it with pedestrian bridges and with recreation areas around it. The scheme is now ready for execution and when it is finished we will find Riyadh the desert city with a river flowing. The southern parts of the city along this river course will be full of trees or forests, even if not irrigated directly from this course of water.
There is a third factor, very important to ensure the existence and prosperity of the city, and also for its beautification, that is electric power, and how to provide a big city like Riyadh with it. We suffered so much at the beginning, then establishment of power stations increased around the city, depending on petroleum and being an important source of providing Riyadh city with power so as to solve the problem of hot weather, provide houses and streets with light, and to provide the industrial city with required power for operation. When the desalination plant was erected in Jubail to provide Riyadh with water, it was also provided with power which became the major guarantee and main assistance for the local power stations. You may imagine a city with not less than thirty thousand streets lighted with electricity in 90 percent of the total number. Riyadh became a sparkling diamond in the middle of the desert.
SIXTH: COMMUNICATION BETWEEN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CITY AND TRANSPORTATION WITHIN AND TO AND FROM IT:
We tried to avoid traffic jams through several means, such as encouraging horizontal expansion of the city. The flat shape of the lands around Riyadh helped us carry out that plan and no obstacles constrained that expansion. Also, by granting lands, the government helped in the plan because that enabled us to construct straight and wide roads. Providing the far-off parts of the city with services was so expensive but in the long run it is fruitful in helping avoid traffic jams. The problem of junctions was solved by constructing tunnels; we did not erect high bridges, except where essential. The ground bases of these junctions were made wide enough to be planted with trees, which is expected to reduce potential disadvantages.
Expanding decentralization to cover various areas of facilities and services of which education, health, municipal, marketing, etc., are the most important, helped provide services nearer to their places and that lessened their need for the center of the city. The citizens awareness and concern increased, and this is why the traffic jam which is a problem in major cities, is not a major problem in Riyadh although we have no underground trains like those available in those cities. I do not think we would be in need of it.
SEVENTH: DECENTRALIZATION OF MARKETS:
Decentralization of markets plays a major role in lessening traffic jams, saving time, and conserving power. This is why we created major markets at various places in Riyadh starting with vegetable, meat and fruit markets. Different sorts of markets were established around them. Now wherever you go you will find whatever you may need. Yet, this did not affect the attractiveness of the main city center: it is still busy and bustling. We developed the city center to keep it alive and full of activities. Although many traditional markets are available throughout Riyadh, still the traditional Arabian market at the city center attracts many people. We were keen to construct the traditional markets at the city center in the same pattern which was previously predominating.
EIGHTH: DEVELOPMENT OF THE CITY CENTER
Increase in the income, general enhancement of public health, availability of lands granted by the government, easy installments of the Real Estate Development Fund by way of giving interest-free loans, and easy passage between districts, attracted many of the old city residents to move from the mud houses and narrow lanes to the places they built modern houses with better ventilation, sanitary and private gardens.
This trend caused the old areas to be deserted or inhabited by some workers or used as stores. Some of the houses deteriorated and became ruins which discredited this beautiful city of Riyadh. It was essential to resolve that problem and transform those areas into civil active areas full of life and action. Considering that the development of these areas would cost the government great amounts of money, it was decided to implement the improvements as follows:
1. Encourage the private sector to acquire adjacent houses, demolish them and build them again as trade centers, and several were executed in this regard.
2. Develop administrative, cultural and religious areas by constructing the three main buildings, the Governorate, the Municipality and the Police Station, and then the Governor's Offices (Qasr Al-Hukm) and the yards around it, the Grand Mosque, and repair and maintain Al-Masmak, erecting some ancillary buildings and shops. I believe this part of the project is the biggest worldwide city center that had been redeveloped.
3. As the municipality acquired some fifty square meters of that area, and considering the large amounts of money that would cost the municipality for its development, a company was established by the municipality of Riyadh, the Pensions Fund, the General Organization for Social Insurance, and the Saudi Real Estate Company for the purpose of developing this area and the establishment of a large trade center. The capital of this company was SR 600,000,000 (six hundred million Saudi Riyals). The company established the trade center, which is the biggest of its kind up to now in the Middle East, as it is based on 240 thousand square meters with 1,150 shops, one hotel, 280 offices, and 240,000 parking spaces. The company also developed Dira market by building 480 shops.
4. The joint venture 'Riyadh Development Company' was also established, with one billion Saudi Riyals as capital, the municipality being one of the shareholders. This company developed several areas of old Riyadh in phases, starting with the project facing Mai'qlia Center on the southern side, executed by a national company. Thus it will harness the center when operated. It consists of shops, offices and apartments. It is noted that it was insisted on that the hotel should be included as well as the apartments in these large projects to keep the city center alive throughout day and night.
THE PROJECTS AND PLANNING CENTER
When I was honored by being mayor of Riyadh, there was a newly-established office 'The Diplomatic Quarter Project Office', responsible for planning and implementing the projects of the Diplomatic Quarter. The office was headed by a board of directors and the mayor of Riyadh was a member of that board.
The municipality was directly responsible for two large projects not yet started, the development of Qasr Al-Hukm area and the city center. The staff of the municipality at that time was not capable of supervising these two huge projects. I suggested the establishment of a similar office to the one for the Diplomatic Quarter, to be devoted to following up the project of the development of Qasr Al-Hukm, with suitable flexibility, which means that the board of directors has full authority to decide on matters. The office was established and was assigned the project. Then we thought of establishing a third office for urban planning, and finally it was agreed that the three offices be integrated into one office "The Center for Important Projects and Planning" and be associated with the Riyadh Development Authority. The Council of Ministers' decree was issued approving the same, and the Center was assigned with those projects. The Center accomplished important major tasks and still practices its activities as it is responsible for the strategy of the city and urban, commercial, and environmental studies and implements several projects.
THE RING ROAD:
This was also a huge project. I made an agreement with the Minister of Communications to allot the project to the Ministry for implementation. A meeting was held at the office of the Minister and was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz as well as some other minister of related responsibilities. We signed the minutes of the meeting whereby the Ring Road Project was transferred to the Ministry of Communications and the Royal Decree was issued approving the same.
Thus, those huge projects were executed by the Center for Projects and Planning and the Minister of Communications. At that time one of the young men who was full of enthusiasm to work with the municipality said: "As if you say that we are not qualified to execute such projects?" I said: "On the contrary, you have so many projects, may Allah grant you with strength. Do not get excited, these projects, whoever executes them, are for the city of Riyadh and the municipality is the authority responsible for the city of Riyadh, these projects will be counted as honorable deeds of the municipality even if we did not execute them as Haroon Al-Rasheed said to the cloud: 'Rain wherever you choose, what you yield will come to me'."
5. The municipality acquired some lands to be as children's playgrounds, and received a ranch 300,000 square meters in the area with more than one thousand date palms and equipped it with facilities to turn it into a public garden in that area.
Thus, and within a period of just a few years, the city center which was ignored and almost deserted, will be - with the will of Allah - one of the most beautiful districts of Riyadh.
The government of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz and the Crown Prince allocated the whole budget for services including the municipalities, yet the municipalities throughout the Kingdom started seeking to improve their own resources. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs established a general directorate for the improvement of the resources of the municipalities. Its task is to direct municipalities to increase their sources of revenue. The municipality of Riyadh improved its annual resources until it became a basic part of its operational budget. That was achieved through renting shops and lands owned by the municipality, fees on licenses for buildings and establishing shops, fees on advertising agencies, the percentage taken from the electricity company and this is relatively a good amount; fees on private advertisements, fees on car registration, land purchases such as the organizational areas, penalties levied on offenses committed, and other related things.
The great increase in the national income due to the adjustment of oil prices in 1972 was utilized for huge project rarely implemented in this era at any place. This nation was firmly eager to minimize the time and finish up its infrastructure for service projects by any mean. Such a challenge and achievement in such a short time could be problematic and that is a normal results, for the eagerness of each department to finish its part of the public utilities (electricity, water, sewage, telephones, and so on) in the shortest possible period. It is normal because these activities are not carried out in the desert but in a busy city teeming with people and the conditions of its residents must be accounted for. Weak coordination or its absence has a negative impact on the execution of the projects. Coordination affects all aspects of activities at all stages.
Because of these facts the municipality was seeking ways to eliminate negative effects that co-exist with implementation of projects or at least decrease them to the minimum possible. And also, to employ all the available resources efficiently and effectively, the municipality established the Coordination Office to be an administration unit responsible for the coordination and follow-up of projects within the city, seeking coordination of views and standards among the agencies that execute the services and creating a spirit of dialogue and positive discussion, developing a sense of conservation for the roads and streets of the city and creating various suitable communication channels.
Representatives of all departments responsible for facilities or that could be affected by such works, that is the traffic department, civil defense and communication, are members of this office. They meet weekly to study the conditions of each project and to distribute the construction works throughout the city so that no conflict could constrain or delay the works for any of those departments.
As is known, effective coordination includes setting a master plan for the projects of the city, and it also includes defining the priorities and setting the program within the plan of the government, provided the Ministry of Finance is committed to the financing program and the other government departments to executing their part according to those programs and plans, that requires opening channels of communication with all administrative levels.
This it is necessary for the office to be affiliated directly with the mayor of the city, the supreme authority of the city units, to enable it to fulfill its tasks. This organization proved effective and greatly helped in lessening delays in the execution of works. It also helped in mitigating the sufferings of the citizens who lived around such places where those facilities were being executed.
ELEVENTH: NAMING AND NUMBERING OF STREETS:
Many people, several years ago, were inquiring why the project of naming and numbering was delayed. They have all the right of course, because this project is very essential for the completion of the urban aspects in the city.
But the huge building development and the desire to create suitable conditions to accomplish the facilities, especially the roads, public utilities and planting trees, accommodated all efforts and thoughts of the staff of the municipality, as if they were in a race with time. It may be good luck that delayed the project of naming and numbering for several years. This delay helped to come out with a complete perfect project. A team of experts and specialized consultants worked with the task force of the municipality and the situation of the city was thoroughly studied as well as its building expansion, way of determining districts, and their sizes. The applied system was the best suited and conforming to the planning of the city; it was easily used by all members of the community. The system used to name the districts and streets as well as numbering the buildings was the 'sector' system. In this way the address contained three elements: (1) the number of the building; (2) the number of the street; and (3) the name of the district. This system was approved by the Council of Ministers resolution number 155 dated 21/07/1406 H. It was then applied to all cities in the Kingdom.
The advantages of this system are: 1 - It is easy to understand and use by the community; 2 - It is accurate in defining the address of any building; 3 - It is flexible and applicable when the city expands in any direction.
How the names were chosen for the streets:
A panel of specialized members was assigned to choose the names from the following groupings of names:
1. companions of the Prophet Muhammad, his wives, the Khalifas, and other followers;
2. famous Arab and Muslim leaders throughout the history of Islam;
3. famous imams in history, and the kings and princes of the royal family;
4. recent imams and learned religious individuals;
5. the most famous wars in the history of Islam;
6. the most famous Arab scientists, poets, and writers from the Jahaliya era (dark ages) to the present;
7. leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries;
8. towns, cities, and villages in Arab and Islamic countries as well as Saudi Arabia;
9. rivers, valleys and mountains in Arab and Islamic countries as well as Saudi Arabia.
The city which contains thirty thousand streets was able to have suitable names within a very short period of time. It is a deed that deserves respect and admiration.
TWELFTH: ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE MUNICIPALITY:
There was no organizational structure to allot functions and authority. Departments and directorates were established according to the need that arose and according to the discretion of the office in charge. The responsibilities were not well defined and thus some departments were thronged with work.
When the duties increased and the area of responsibilities expanded, it was necessary to define carefully the authorities, the range of work, and the allocation of duties, especially since educated national cadres began to be available and started taking over various departments. All this necessitated setting up an organizational structure that consists of departments and various units to be linked to the general directorates then to the deputy mayors or the mayor.
The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) was requested to prepare the organizational structure for the municipality in cooperation with a selected group of specialists from the municipality. This group was selected because there was a great deal of experience gained by the employees of the municipality in different fields of work. The municipality composed a panel headed by an expert in administration and regulations especially in the field of municipalities: His Excellency the Counselor Muhammad Fahmi Najm, who was deputy governor of the Jiza governorate and later became governor of Al-Wadi Aljadeed and subsequently counselor for Riyadh Mayor for more than fifteen years.
This panel worked on a daily basis with the team from IPA and spent most of its time inside the municipality seeking assistance from each department manager when concerned with its study and organization. After several months of research and study the team was able to come out
// page 19 of original text missing //
tunnels for sewage and storm water, networks for lighting the streets, as well as other public utilities such as central markets, water closets for the public and the buildings owned by the municipality, for the maintenance and operation of all services for those firms such as equipment, cars and supplies.
The importance of maintenance arises from the fact that it:
1 - covers most of the lifetime of the project when compared with other phases of the project such as design and implementation, continuing for 20 to 100 years for some structures where design and implementation may not exceed four years for medium projects.
2 - saves costs, since suitable expenditure on maintenance results in saving the amounts expended on the structure which is different if left without maintenance when re-operated.
3 - keeps the performance level high, since by way of good maintenance safety and convenience are achieved for those who use the structure especially the governmental service projects.
FOURTEENTH: PROBLEM OF METROPOLISES:
During the period of my work as Mayor of Riyadh City I was allowed many opportunities to realize the extremely complicated problems experienced by metropolises, and in this there is no difference between cities of the advanced world and the third world.
I listened to many lectures specialized, symposiums and conferences, read many books and researches, met with high-ranked officials of those cities. I accumulated a vast knowledge of the various problems: the great lack of housing and facilities, shortage in seats at schools, beds in hospitals, complicated traffic problems, unemployment, shortage of water, electricity and telephones, decay of cleaning standards, crime, etc., whether in cities with high revenues such as Tokyo or New York, or with low revenues such as Cairo, Bombay, Mexico City, or Calcutta. They all suffer the same problems with no solutions to be found on the horizon.
Some cities that were planned to accommodate a reasonable number to their sizes, services and facilities thronged with six-fold of that number within two or three decades only, Cairo, Karachi and New Delhi are examples.
Being aware of those problems, and to save Riyadh and avoid future sufferings of the same problems or part of them, the planning of the city considered decentralization of facilities, the easy flow of traffic, suitable population density in districts as a result of determination of the height of houses which was mostly two floors only. The built area to the whole area of the lot was determined by 40 percent of the land to spare to be spaced ass for a garden. Al that was to assure that Riyadh will not be vulnerable to future problems that faced metropolises.
It is true that the huge building expansion in Riyadh city cost the government very large amounts of money to provide services and maintain facilities and also the necessity for a bigger security workforce. Yet, and despite the higher costs, it is welcome to assure the establishment of a metropolis free of population congestion or traffic jams or other pressures witnessed in metropolises. Also, experience proved that horizontally extended cities are more safe than those that depend on high buildings.
To follow up the problems of major cities and how they were solved, a division was appointed within the mayor's office for 'Major Cities Studies'. This division was responsible for the follow-up of research related to the subject and present a clear view of those problems and how to avoid them. This division is in good contact with specialized centers and institutions such as the 'Metropolis Organization' and the 'Mega Cities Project' in the University of New York.
// pages 22, 23, and 24 missing //
Each and every manager will leave the field one day and he will cherish the result of his deeds positively or negatively. He will meet with some of the applicants and will know how fair he was from their eyes. Thus he should prepare for the day when he will leave the post. He must be aware that the tongues of the people are the pens of truth, the minds of people record very accurately every single action or behavior of the one who is responsible for their affairs …. My advice to the leaders or those who are preparing themselves or hope to be leaders, to think every day of the day when they will leave the post. They can - without any excuses - help people, do good, fulfill the expectations, and present welfare. No reason is accepted like saying the regulations are firm or the resources are limited and the time is so short. Regulations are set for the welfare of people. People will be satisfied when the leader applies the regulations and utilizes the resources however limited they might be, and the time is never short when we organize it and schedule our steps.
This is just a profile of some points of the modernization and development movement in Riyadh City. It is by the grant of Allah, then the auspices of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, as well as the assistance and follow-up of the wise government and collaboration of various sectors of activities, that several other achievements were witnessed; it is not fair to just point at them in short sentences because they are urban centers of higher beauty and modern design. One cannot accurately evaluate them unless we see them and wander about them.
A nation that had conquered the difficulties of irrigating the desert, built the factories, and marvelous achievements, is capable of being on the lead for other nations on earth in conformity with nature and originality and heritage. Each and every Saudi is deeply concerned with not only participating in the progress of his country and the capital city of Riyadh, but also to present to the world a marvelous unique architectural civilization model.