Urban land policy and nature of the urban growth problem in Riyadh city

  • Khaled M. Bin-Eyyd

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Riyadh City, the capital of Saudi Arabia, presents an interesting context of problems in its urbanisation process, which started pronouncedly during the 1970s. The main factor that prompted urbanisation was the discovery and production of crude oil accompanied with the strong political desire for urbanisation and modernisation. This has enabled the country to embark on
    profound national development in all aspects of life. The fast growth in population and urban land expansion led to several challenges to the urbanisation process and to urban land policy. These started to occur as a result of high land demand and the absence of measures able to control urban land expansion. Surprisingly, land urban expansion exceeded the increase in urban population which itself was uncontrolled. Similarly, the
    increase in urban land use also generated empty urban lands scattered randomly in Riyadh City. Thus, the main thrust of this thesis is to investigate the nature of the urbanisation process and the role of urban land policy with emphasis on the impact of urban land expansion in Riyadh City, despite the policies that aimed at controlling and directing urban growth.

    The main objective of the study has been to provide a broad perspective on the urbanisation process in Riyadh City and examine five proposed hypotheses associated with the urbanisation problem. Other objectives were to understand the concept that most likely reflects the real nature of the
    urbanisation process from social and governmental perspectives, and to illustrate the concepts that govern urban land expansion with particular emphasis on how the residents perceive urban land expansion in view of services and infrastructure of their City. Following these objectives, the study has adopted a combined approach involving firstly acquiring the necessary background for the literature, which helped to set up the study.

    A total of 781 (or 78.1%) respondents to questionnaire in four groups: Land authority, Estate agents, Landowners and Residents indicated general agreement between land authority and residents, which was likely to disagree with perceptions of landowners and Estate agents on the majority of the 33 statements of the questionnaire. Results of the statistical analysis
    indicated that the proposed hypotheses were most likely to be rejected because of disagreement on urban land policies and their mechanism for the development and control urbanisation process. Results also indicated that urbanisation growth in Riyadh City was not organised, and land development not regulated and implemented by the municipality under control measures. The existing urbanisation problems can be attributed to the constitution, system of granting land, land ownership, view of people towards land and urbanisation in general make it difficult to apply measures to control urban land expansion. Other problems such as ineffective management, coordination on planning between the municipality and other organisations, inconsistency between urban land policy and lack of
    coordination between authorities in distributing land have greatly
    contributed to the urbanisation problem in Riyadh City. Thus, unless there is co-operation between people and authorities on one hand, and involvement of people in their city development on the other, the problem of urban land growth is perhaps a bigger challenge to comprehend in the future.
    Date of Award2004
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Jenkins (Supervisor) & Liang Jiang (Supervisor)


    • Urbanization
    • Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)

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