From Balanced development to Integrated Development, the case of the National Spatial Strategy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Abstract Summary
Achieving balanced development between cities and regions has been a guiding principle for state planning agencies. This concern has always guided national spatial policies and served as basis for many spatial plans in both developed and developing countries. Balanced development main assumption is that growth of large metropolitan areas must be controlled for the benefit of small and intermediate cities and that rural population migration towards cities must be stopped. This imperative requires allocating resources and services evenly throughout the territory and reducing state (and private) investments in large cities and promoting investment in smaller cities and lagging regions. However, experience shows that this principle has often led to many shortfalls. On one hand, national funds were spread too thinly country wide and failed to achieve the anticipated outcome in medium and small cities and lagging regions. On the other hand, metropolitan areas were penalized and prevented from playing their natural role as leaders of the national economy. This situation was even more aggravated with globalization which led cities and regions of one country to compete even more to attract resources and funding while central governments disengaged further from their responsibility to redistribute growth to lagging regions and cities. Through the case of the National Spatial Strategy 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this paper argues for the need to move from the imperative of balanced development to the concept of integrated spatial development. The paper strongly recommends that there should be no trade-off between strengthening metropolitan areas on one hand and developing medium and small sized cities on the other since both processes can take place at the same time in an integrated manner. We argue that, in a globalized world, metropolitan areas are more than ever needed for economic diversification and should be empowered to rely more on their global positioning and capacity to attract FDIs, multinational businesses and creative and skilled labour. While state intervention in the form of more local devolution and through a smart allocation (both rational and technologically driven) of resources and services is still needed to achieve the integrated development of small and intermediate cities in the national urban system and, beyond, in the regional and world economy.
Abstract ID :
ISO221
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Director - Partner
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IBI Group
Associate - Planning, Manager
,
IBI Group

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