Regional planning : the experience of Saudi Arabia.
In a little more than a decade regional planning has emerged as a vital
component of the development planning process in Saudi Arabia. From its
limi ted beginnings in physical planning its scope has rapidly widened
and the latest plans attempt comprehensive regional planning within the
context of a multi-level development planning effort. This experience
has been rich and varied, and various innovatory approaches and techniques have been introduced.
This study was conducted with a view to evaluating Saudi experience and
placing it in an international perspective. With these aims in mind, a
comprehensive planning model has been developed and a number of key
questions posed, the answers to which reflect the acceptability and
practicality of the planning system. The model is based upon a review
of international experience of countries with different political,
social and cultural settings, and at different stages of development.
The model consists of four main components: planning activities, plan
making bodies, decision making bodies and implementing bodies with a
feedback from the public and private sectors. The model was tested
against the planning experience of three countries with widely differing
political, social and economic settings: Canada with its laissez-faire
economy, the United Kingdom with its mixed economy, and Poland with its
command economy. It was concluded that the model is sufficiently robust
to act as a framework wi thin which to describe and analyse the Saudi
The context for regional planning in Saudi Arabia was analysed. The
study included the political and administrative systems, the economy,the settlement structure, the sectoral planning process, the spatial
planning process, and the past experience in regional planning. Then,
the current regional planning experience which includes the National
Settlement Strategy and the Regional Comprehensive Planning Project were
discussed and analysed, taking the five comprehensive regional development
plans (Hail, Qassim, Baha, Tabuk and Makkah) as case studies.
This "current" experience was evaluated against the comprehensive
planning model and the key questions for an acceptable planning system.
It has been found that the Saudi planning system is fairly well
developed at the national and local scales. However, at the regional
scale, although there is political commitment there is little in the way
of administrative arrangements for plan making and implementation. A
set of proposals for improving the planning system has been presented
for future action.