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Mudun Jamila (Beautiful Cities): Leveraging Design to improve the built environment quality in Saudi Arabia

Feras Kashari



Thursday, June 30, 2022


Urban Expo: Urban Library room
Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing
Saudi Arabia
UL 20


Saudi Arabia is undergoing structural transformations, and so are its cities. Vision 2030, the ambitious strategy to modernize, open and develop the country, diversifying the Kingdom’s economic base, places cities at the center of this transformation process, aiming at driving sustainable urbanization and harnessing its beneficial aspects.

In line with this, most recently, the Deputyship of Town Planning in the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing (MoMRAH), has started to develop a new set of design-based tools and guidelines to improve the urban built environment quality in the Kingdom and to be implemented across the national, regional and local levels.

Amongst these new tools, are the National Public Realm Design Manual and the National Urban Design Guidelines, which focus on creating a basic understanding of the spatial and visual elements characterizing a sustainable, people-centered, vibrant, and walkable city, and devising accordingly a system of design standards and operational tools to be applied across the public realm of all the cites in Saudi Arabia.

Both the NPRDM and the NUDG represent a substantial effort of MoMRAH in engaging more directly with the local level by providing capacity-building support in the form of tools and guidelines, playing fully its role of national regulator and enabler of coordinated action towards the achievement of Saudi Arabia commitments to Vision 2030, the SDGs and the NUA. 

The event will focus on presenting both the NPRDM and the NUDG in their context, including the background and root-cause analysis, and the process behind the production of the two, followed by insights on the manual and guidelines structure, components, and implementation strategy. This will happen through a visual presentation supported by graphic panels linked to the main Saudi exhibition.

In addition, the event will provide a platform for comparison with similar experiences in Egypt and Morocco, and a chance for a public debate on the role of design-based tools in enabling the transformation of our cities towards a more sustainable urban form, a more beautiful, people-friendly urban environment and a greener, safer and more vibrant urban landscape.


The two MoMRAH publications aim at creating a basic understanding of the definition of the public realm in Saudi Arabia, as well as of its roles, constituting elements and functions within the urban system. Also, the NPRDM and NUDG aim to contextualization of international urban design standards, design principles, and approaches to the Kingdom's conditions and capacity levels.

Both publications do this by articulating theoretical concepts about livable, connected, vibrant, sustainable, and people-centered cities, and operationally linking them to indications about design elements enabling the translation of those concepts into urban form. The main objectives of the publications therefore are:

  • The building-up of knowledge and capacity in local municipalities across the kingdom in relation to built-environment quality standards 
  • Providing technical guidance to the private sector in order to meet basic standards for the improvement of urban quality when rolling out new developments.  
  • Enhancing the use of a design-based approach to support the implementation of NUA, SDG, and Saudi Vision 2030
  • Using the event to get feedback on the guidelines and compare with similar experiences from other Arab states (Egypt and Morocco)

Session speakers

Ms. Costanza La Mantia
Senior Urban Planner
UN-HABITAT Saudi Arabia
Mr. Adel Alzaharani
Deputy Minister of Town Planning
Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing
Ms. Amanda Gregor
Project Manager
Ghel - Making Cities for People
Ms. Heidi Shalaby
Head of the Central Administration for Planning and Technical Affairs
National Organization for Urban Harmony
Mr. Hachimi Abdellah
the Director of City Policy at the Ministry of National Land Management, Housing and City Policy