Riyadh, SPA: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's strategic location at the confluence of three continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe, confers great influence to it and makes it a global logistics hub. This strategic location contributed to the Kingdom's becoming a leading country in the transport and logistics sector.
The Kingdom has 73,000 km of roads, including 3,690 bridges and 76 tunnels, that fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services. Moreover, the total number of flights in 2022 exceeded 700,000.
Given the fact that the transport and logistics sector in the Kingdom is the main engine of development, many effective plans had to be adopted to support the sector, to shorten distances and connect regions, as well as to facilitate the procedures accompanying the arrival and movement of visitors, tourists and pilgrims to the Two Holy Mosques, and to enable several other vital sectors to carry out their businesses and achieve their goals and aspirations, by providing all means, and preparing and developing the infrastructure.
Towards achieving the goals of Vision 2030, the Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Transport General Authority (TGA), and of the Center for Transportation Safety. It also approved the transfer of the task of supervising, regulating and controlling the postal services from the communications and information technology sector to the transportation and logistics services sector, in order to restructure and develop these services, in line with the comprehensive cultural renaissance that the Kingdom is witnessing in various fields.
The transport sector offers land, sea, air, rail, roads, and logistics services. These services are integrated and interrelated in order to help this and various other sectors in the country, leading to a renaissance in all fields and achieving the objectives of the national strategy for transport and logistics.
In 2022, 56 roads totaling 1,610 km were built, the terms of contracts pertaining to the field have been clearly spelled out, and 608 bridges and 37 tunnels were inspected and evaluated, in order to ensure that roads are in very good working conditions. During a campaign launched to check the situation of the road network, more than 14,000 issues were found and dealt with. At the same time, an initiative was also launched to improve the durability and quality of roads, as well as the maintenance operations.
In the land transport sector, in 2022, the regulatory framework for regulations and policies governing electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles was set, and the “Tajeer” portal was launched to automate car rental operations in the Kingdom. At the same time, five projects concerning public transportation by buses, within cities, were launched, in addition to a project to develop passenger transportation services by buses that connect more than 200 cities and governorates.
The compliance of licensed facilities dealing with all transport activities increased to 91% and shuttle buses to transport fans wishing to attend the 2022 World Cup matches in the State of Qatar were provided, which transported 400,000 individuals. Some 211 domestic destinations were also reached.
In the maritime transport sector, the Kingdom owns 13 ports on the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, and as a result of the leadership’s support, the Kingdom obtained the Maritime Quality Certificate for the twenty-first century from the US Coast Guard. Also, six agreements were signed with marine classification agencies, and exceptional agreements with local, regional and global companies were signed to establish six integrated logistical areas, and 17 new navigation services linking the Kingdom’s ports with ports to the east and to the west, and enhancing commercial traffic were added. At the same time, Gate 9 of the Jeddah Islamic Port was expanded after the rehabilitation of the western road, and the foundation stone of the largest integrated logistics area in the Middle East was laid in the Jeddah Islamic Port. Investments in this project amount to SR1.3 billion; it will be situated on a 225,000 square metre area, and will offer investment opportunities in logistical areas to the private sector, increasing the number of logistical areas that include re-exports to 30 by 2030, in line with the objectives of the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics Services, which seek to consolidate the Kingdom's position as a global logistics hub.
In air transport, Saudi Arabia was elected a member of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, until 2025, at ICAO's 41st general assembly in Montreal, Canada. Saudi Arabia won a seat on ICAO Council through the exceptional vote of 156 member states. It hosted the Future of Aviation Conference 2022, launched the King Salman International Airport masterplan, two terminals (3&4) at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, expanded Al-Qaisumah Airport, making it an international airport, completed the institutional transformation of 25 airports, and operated daily flights around the clock to transport passengers to Qatar to attend the 2022 World Cup, which all made the Kingdom’s airports receive 88 million passengers in 2022. The total freight transported through the Kingdom’s airports in 2022 exceeded 623,000 tonnes. Additionally, three international routes (Cairo-Jeddah, Dubai-Riyadh, Dubai-Jeddah) were among the 10 busiest in the world in terms of the number of flights in 2022 up to October 2022, according to a global ranking institution, while the most active internal route was Riyadh-Jeddah.
Also in 2022, more than 5.8 million passengers were transported via railway networks, a 115% increase compared to 2021. More than 1.3 million pilgrims were transported via Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro during the Hajj season 1443 AH, and more than 23 million tonnes of minerals and goods were transported via trains, a 9% increase over 2021. The trains contributed to keeping 1.8 million trucks off the Kingdom’s roads.
The railway project linking the North and East networks and the Jubail inner network were launched, Al-Qurayyat passenger train station was inaugurated, car freight service via passenger trains in the North Railway was also inaugurated, the Railway Industrial Opportunities Forum was held, and 24 memoranda of understanding and 15 agreements in the field of rail transport were signed.
Concerning the postal sector, the achievements include an increase in the number of registrants in the short national address, which exceeded 20.2 million, the geographical coverage by post in the Kingdom reached 100%, the level of customer service improved, and new contracts were signed with partners from the private sector. Also, the female employee virtual service "Maha" was launched, which has served nearly 2.9 million customers.
The transportation system will continue to record new achievements, to meet the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which is an integral part of Saudi Vision 2030.
The Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services is a key partner and a vital sector that contributes to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030. Its efforts impact many other sectors, enabling them to achieve their goals and serve the country and its citizens. The National Transport and Logistics Strategy launched by HRH the Crown Prince in mid-2021 includes several initiatives and programmes that will help achieve the goals of several sectors and consolidate the Kingdom's position as a global logistics hub.
The launch of the strategy helps in developing the sector through its many quality projects that will enhance the Kingdom's position and competitiveness regionally and globally. The strategy works to diversify the Saudi economy, consolidate its link with the global economy, and develop local content, equivalent to 33% of the sector's costs, to support sustainable development.
The logistic services are a major driver for the non-oil sectors and a pivotal supporter of economic development and sustainability in the Kingdom.
The strategy includes the establishment of global logistical platforms and zones, and international hubs for aviation, as well as developing the port infrastructure, expanding their absorptive capacity, and raising their operational efficiency by empowering and investing resources to support sustainable development, noting that one of the main objectives of the national strategy for transport and logistics is to increase the contribution of the transport sector and logistics services to the national GDP to 10% instead of the current 6%.
It aims to achieve several ambitious goals, mainly putting the Kingdom on the list of the top 10 countries in the logistical performance index, as well as helping it go higher in the cross-border trade index, having the Kingdom among the first 35 countries in the world in this field, compared to its current ranking of 86, and among the best six countries in the road quality index and maintaining the Kingdom's global leadership in road network connectivity. The minister said that Saudi Arabia leads the world in this indicator. It will also increase the capacity to reach 330 million passengers and ship more than 4.5 million tonnes by air annually, in addition to reaching more than 250 international destinations.