Osama Al-Bar, mayor of Makkah, revealed that Makkah will spend around $80bn over the coming years on numeours projects to develop the city.
A third of this money will be allocated to public transportation projects and the King Abdullah project for upgrading the city, with metro and bus service projects set to get underway soon.
“We expect to award the contracts in the first quarter of 2014. The rapid bus service will operate in 2016, while the first line of the metro system will be completed in late 2017,” Al-Bar told Arab News.
The mayor also revealed that the government would build 260 new residential districts in the city over the next 20 years.
Currently, the government is working on completing projects costing $1.6bn (SAR 6bn) including the fourth circular road, underpasses and overpasses, pavements, a lighting system, gardens, sports centres and other services for citizens and visitors.
Al-Bar admitted there have been delays but the city was currently working on ways to resolve this issue.
He said the municipality recently launched a crackdown on land thieves and recovered 17mn square metres of government property in the Al-Ja’ranah area, as well as pieces of land from encroachers on the outskirts of the city.
The mayor said the law previously did not criminalise encroachments, but under Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the former Makkah governor and now education minister, an initiative was launched to arrest all trespassers on government-owned land.
Makkah Municipality has already allocated some of this land for public utilities including a hospital east of the city, a psychiatric hospital, a technology college, a tourism college and other service facilities.
On the environmental front, Al-Bar said a project to recycle waste is still under study.
In addition, the municipality and the city’s development commission have ordered all contractors to build “green” taking into account energy and other environmental issues.