UN-Habitat’s three-pronged approach considers spatial planning in relation to legal and institutional frameworks, in addition to financial mechanisms. In this way, success criteria for the sustainable implementation of a spatial plan should include flexible but enforceable rules and regulations, in addition to a financing strategy and projections.
As a pragmatic explication of this approach, three local demonstration projects representing essential elements of a strengthened and improved planning system have been developed. As applicable to all of these projects, the demonstration project for Al-Ahsa has been elaborated to include schematic designs and feasibility studies, that can later be transformed into implementation plans. Such implementation plans are projected to be undertaken by The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MoMRA), in collaboration with other partners in the Kingdom. Though this project is localised in order to provide a detailed and calculated projection of impact, it has been designed to address problems that have been analysed as emblematic of Saudi Cities, and the themes and elemental compositions presented here, are considered as transposable to the larger Saudi context.
This demonstration project addresses themes such as public space creation, pedestrian and green connectivity, cultural and heritage integration. It places the cultural identity of the Al-Ahsa Oasis at the centre of the urban experience, creating physical links to the oasis infrastructure and enhancing the symbiotic connections between the natural and engineered ecosystems. This plan draws from a detailed analysis of AlAhsa’s strengths and weaknesses and intends to enhance the city’s natural features and to bring renewed importance to existing landmarks through new connections. Al-Ahsa’s urban form is completely isolated from the agricultural heritage of the oasis and redressing this isolation forms the basis of this proposal. However, despite the specificity of this proposal, these themes are paradigmatic of many cities in the Kingdom and therefore, the modes of address for these themes are intended equally as a toolkit of approaches that can be re-contextualised and applied to many more areas in the Kingdom, under their own specific circumstances.