Despite its surging size—expected to hit 8.3 million by 2030—Riyadh had no public transportation system. But a sprawling state-of-the-art commuter network aims to transform mobility in the kingdom’s capital city. Riyadh Metro, which is scheduled to open this year, consists of six autonomous train lines spanning 176 kilometers (109 miles). And it’s just one part of the world’s largest public transportation initiative, which includes 956 buses covering 1,150 kilometers (715 miles).
7th Most Influential Project of 2021
When the Iraqi government reclaimed Mosul from ISIS in 2017, destroyed and damaged structures dotted the city. But restoring the nearly 850-year-old Al-Nouri Mosque complex holds far more significance than simply repairing bricks and mortar. “Landmarks are very important in the recovery process, because they embody the values and the identity of the community,” says Maria Rita Acetoso, conservationist and senior project manager at UNESCO. The project is funded by the United Arab Emirates and guided by UNESCO, with support from the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Sunni Endowment.
18th Most Influential Project of 2021
The United Arab Emirates is getting serious about alternatives to fossil fuel: setting out to build what’s being billed as the world’s largest single-site solar power plant. Located 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Abu Dhabi City, the US$1 billion Al Dhafra project is the brainchild of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.—which sees it as a gamechanger. When project financing closed in December 2020, group CEO and Managing Director Jasim Husain Thabet called it a “benchmark project for our nation and the global energy sector.” The multinational team also includes Masdar, EDF Renouvelables and Jinko Power.
20th Most Influential Project of 2021
The pandemic postponed the original schedule, but it couldn’t stop Expo 2020 Dubai. Project leaders for the US$8.2 billion megaproject regrouped, pushing back the global spectacle by a year to open in October 2021 and run through March 2022. Organizers expect the event to pull 25 million visitors to the region, helping spark a rebirth for global travel. And that’s a win for project leaders and political stakeholders alike, as government leaders look to diversify the country’s economy and shake off one of the worst recessions in five decades. The event is expected to boost Dubai’s economy by US$33 billion and create about 300,000 jobs.
22nd Most Influential Project of 2021
To the naked eye, Dubai’s Museum of the Future looks as though it’s been lowered from space, gently floating alongside the busy Sheikh Zayed Road. In actuality, the building is firmly grounded—structurally and strategically. The AED500 million project, sponsored by the Dubai Future Foundation, will deliver a community site for exhibits, immersive theater and themed attractions. Its mission: to explore today’s most pressing threats while highlighting possible solutions.
45th Most Influential Project of 2021
Now this is a power play. The SAR6 billion King Salman Energy Park (known as Spark) is a global energy technology hub that will include factories, workshops and a railroad port, along with residential, educational and commercial areas. The megaproject puts a heavy focus on sustainability, with the first phase of the 50-square-kilometer (19-square-mile) development obtaining LEED silver certification—making Spark the first industrial city in the world to do so. The site will be operated and anchored by Saudi Aramco in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones. And it’s already attracting local and international industry investors: Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (known as Taqa) and the Saudi energy consulting firm Amco signed tenant deals in March.
Getting from Point A to Point B might be the main draw for airports, but enjoying the experience is a nice bonus. To that end, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport has launched an expansion project that will increase its annual capacity to more than 53 million passengers by 2022. Project plans also feature a stunning 10,000-square-meter (107,639-square-foot) indoor tropical garden in the central concourse, and more than 11,000 square meters (12,000 square feet) of new retail and shops, all of which helped the airport snag this year’s “Best Airport in the World” title by consultancy Skytrax. An airport layover never sounded so appealing.
The second phase of the Samsung Innovation Campus project is rolling out in Morocco as part of the manufacturing conglomerate’s Enabling People Initiative. The program’s first phase already racked up quite a list of accomplishments: training and certifying 60 teachers in computer science technology to support digital education efforts in the country. This time around, the project looks to be even more ambitious in training 180 teachers across nine regions in the technology of robotics. The program is part of Samsung’s continued strategic partnership with the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, as the agency strengthens its GENIE program aimed at integrating digital tools more closely into the country’s educational system.
One of the largest natural gas fields in the world and the largest in Saudi Arabia, Jafurah is estimated to hold a staggering 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. In September, Saudi Aramco announced plans to accelerate development of the US$110 billion project. The initiative could position the kingdom as the world’s third-largest natural gas producer by 2030, according to the country’s Ministry of Energy. Construction on the field’s dedicated power plant is slated to begin in December.
UAE startup Liber Health has developed what it calls the first nationwide patient identity blockchain network. Patient misidentification and lack of patient health data contributes to 2.6 million deaths around the world, according to the company. After a year and half of R&D, it came up with an optical iris scan that can correctly identify patients—and their medical records. And because the system uses a distributed ledger technology, there’s no single point of failure. The result is a safer, more accurate, more secure system. Part of the company’s COVID Initiative, the project earned Liber a joint provisional patent with University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, but its vision for the future is even bigger: create a consortium of all the health ministries and healthcare stakeholders of the world.