Riyadh goes green with the Sports Boulevard. The 135-Kilometer-sports boulevard in Riyadh is to connect Wadi Hanifa to the west of the city and Wadi AS-Sail in the east, with the aim of realizing a healthy and energetic lifestyle.
It is noteworthy that the Sports Boulevard is one of the four mega entertainment projects for the public that King Salman has launched last March with a total cost reaching SAR86bn ($23bn) to be executed in the second half of 2019—King Salman Park, Riyadh Art, and The Green Riyadh, all of which aim at doubling the per capita green area in Riyadh by 16 times, creating the world’s largest city parks and planting more than 7.5 million trees throughout Riyadh.
This confirms the Saudi Arabia’s interest in urbanization and environmental management in line with the Vision 2030 reforms, particularly that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the other Saudi cities will witness the launch of similar projects in the near future.
“The Sports Boulevard is an important breakthrough that will contribute to the promotion of sports and the preservation of health. It will also help the capital residents to acquire healthy habits and lifestyles and practice sports regularly” Tawfiq Arrabiaa, the Saudi minister of health said in a tweet through his official Twitter account.
According to the official announcement of the launch of the “Sports Boulevard” project; it will extend to 135 km, of tracks and pathways breaking the city of Riyadh, linking the Wadi Hanifa west of the city and Wadi AS-Sali in the east. It is expected to contribute to encouraging the population to follow healthy patterns of mobility, especially walking, cycling, and horse riding, in an environment full of sport, artistic, cultural, recreational, and environmental events and activities.
The project aims at transforming the city of Riyadh into an open art exhibition that combines tradition and modernity by carrying out eight different zones with facilities for almost every sporting activity.
- Hanifah Valley Zone: it will beof a total length of 30 km from Al-Olab Dam in Historical Diyriah (north), to-Al Madina Al-Monawara Road (south), connecting with a cyclist training center in the nearby Diplomatic Quarter. It will be dedicated to professional and amateur cyclists. It will also feature green pathways for pedestrians and horse riders with 13 stops along the valley route for a bike maintenance center, various coffee shops, and retail outlets.
- Art Zone: this will extend 3 km from King Khalid Road (west) and will have cultural, art, and recreational facilities, adding to pedestrian, cycling, and horse-riding paths, as well as sitting areas. There will also be a group of museums, libraries, studios, art forums, conference halls, and locations set aside for investment.
- Al-Yasen Zone: it will extend to 3.5 Km along Al-Yasen valley, from Suwaid bin Harthah Road to King Fahad Road (west) with a water canal. Pedestrian pathways, bike paths, and potential investment areas will be there. Al-Yasen Zone will feature a unique elevated road to connect to King Abdullah Financial District.
- Recreational Zone: it will be set for 4 Km between King Fahd Road (west) and Othman bin Affan Road with many parks, gardens, and open spaces with a cooling system for the summer season. It will also have a forty-kilometer-viaduct for professional cyclists. The recreational zone will boast events sites, theater, cinema, complexes, and outdoor movie theaters.
- Sports Zone: it is planned to include The Sport Tower, which will be a high rise building with courts and training halls for both men and women besides a Velodrome in the lower floors. The zone will also have 60 sports sites; 16 football pitches and 30 covered and open courts for different sports.
- Environmental Zone: it will run for 14 Km from Airport Road to Al-Janadriyah road with tracks for pedestrians and joggers, an elevated route for professional cyclists, and one at-grade route for amateurs. There will be also nurseries for seed development, agriculture products, and organic food production as well as centers dedicated to educate residents on environment sustainability.
- Al Sulai Valley Zone: it will be located along Wadi AS-Sail for 53 km with routes for professional cycling, horse riding, and green pedestrian pathways. It will also have different coffee shops, retail outlets, a bike maintenance center, and picnic and camping areas along the valley.
- Sand Dunes Part Zone: it will be situated in the sandy areas covering 20,000 square kilometers with a distinctive landmark—a curved cycling track in the shape of a flower, gradually rising 50 meters above the ground allowing the cyclists to enjoy a fascinating view from the top. It will feature an equestrian center and horse-riding trails of one million square meters as well as a zoo spreading over five square kilometers. It will have professional cycling paths, a visitor center, a rural resort, rest areas, and different residential facilities.
Transforming the capital environment into a green oasis, and enhancing its hot climate, Riyadh people seem to be enthusiastic about the new project. This refers to their increasing interest in exercise sports of all kinds in the new green spaces and the longest boulevard in the world.
It is notable that Saudi Arabia, in recent years, has been seeking to encourage more segments of society to practice sports, with an awareness of the high proportion of the Saudis suffering from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.