RIYADH: Riyadh Metro is an impressive project, which will change the lifestyle of the people in the city, said EU Commissioner Violetta Bulc.
Bulc’s comments followed her tour of the ongoing SR85 billion ($22.5 billion) project in Riyadh.
She earlier inaugurated the second EU-GCC Business Forum, PPP and Infrastructure Investment Opportunities in the GCC in Riyadh.
“The deadlines are very demanding, but so far they’re following the deadlines well,” she told the media on the sidelines of the forum.
“As far as I could tell … it’s moving well,” she said.
Describing the metro as the largest investment project in the field of transport in Saudi Arabia, Bulc said that she was happy to note that those involved in the project are using state-of-the art equipment and services for the convenience of commuters.
Bulc said she understood the completion date to be 2019, and described the metro as “the biggest global project in urban mobility.”
The metro, the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Riyadh, is an urban rail and bus system, and the project is on track, Pietro Bagnati, project director for the Italian construction group Salini Impregilo, separately told AFP.
“The project is going on satisfactorily. It is a priority project for the government,” Bagnati said on the sidelines of the forum.
His firm leads the ArRiyadh New Mobility consortium, one of three foreign groups building the six-line Metro project planned to cover 179km of the sprawling city.
The underground and elevated rail network is to be supported by a bus system.
New Mobility’s portion of the project — the Line 3 railway — covers 42 kilometers.
During her opening address at the press briefing, the EU commissioner said that the purpose of her mission is to focus on a new investment plan with Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries, which took 18 months of preparation by the EU.
The commissioner addressed the media following a meeting with EU ambassadors in Riyadh.
Commending Saudi Vision 2030, she said it is an integrated action plan, which covers the implementation of a vast range of projects with the participation of local businessmen.
Bulc also said that she was touched by the hospitality of the people, who were cooperating with free and frank discussions.
Her talks with government officials focused on transport — railways and aviation — and digitization of these projects.
She added that other areas, including research and innovation in transport projects and urban mobility, crowd congestion and pollution, were also taken up during the talks.
In the field of aviation, she said it was agreed to sign trade agreements between the two parties.
Bulc said she had the opportunity of meeting a group of local women and praised the tremendous improvements in their lifestyle.
Bulc said that the literacy rate among women has greatly improved and she was happy to see a large number of women graduates completing their respective degrees at local and foreign universities.