Dissertation Abstracts

The Role of Regional Development Policies in Local Economic Development: The Case of Arriyadh, Saudi Arabia

Author: Althabt, Abdullah A, aalthabt@ksu.edu.sa
Department: Schoole of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
University: Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Frank Moulaert
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Regional policy , Spatial development , Local development , Regional development
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development


This research was initially concerned with the delivery of balanced development to localities from central development planning and strategies. The scope of the study targeted the regional level as a medium that may facilitate the delivery of development, and as an instrument for national development planning to reach localities. The aim of the research was to make recommendations on optimizing regional instruments for the spatial allocation of development resources in Saudi Arabia.

The research is centred on Saudi Arabia. The critical studies of spatial development in this country have revealed the current situation, of a central planning system that is organized in a governance structure that assigns to regional bodies the basic role of progressing socioeconomic development. The studies are in almost complete agreement regarding the absence of an active role for regional planning, which is supposed to complement national policies and allow them to be delivered to localities. This has confirmed the need for in-depth investigation into the role of regional level intervention in facilitating local development.

Intellectual studies undertaken have been based on regional development theories as well as regional development planning and policy. These studies formulated a conceptual framework for the research, which has emphasized the necessity of detailing the enquiry on regional development to be inclusive and to reflect actual local conditions. This includes the setting of factors for local economic production and the platform upon which the processes of development take place. They should be arranged to allow for the outcomes of economic development to reach all spaces and utilising all sectors, which takes place through the governance system.

Accordingly this research has included an empirical enquiry, with interviews to gather detailed information regarding the practice of development in the field and to uncover the difficulties and deficiencies as perceived by the practitioners. The interviewees comprised key officials of the main governance and development institutions on national, regional and local levels. Arriyadh region was selected for this mission, including the Almajmaah County as representative of its localities. The study has produced results around two major foci: the first studying and analysing the current establishment and instruments for delivering regional development policies, the second exploring the institutional structures through which the available development resources are utilised in the planning system and activities: currently and prospectively.

The results have revealed a lack of coherence in the governance system which has led to the disintegration of the institutional network in the country. The governance structure appears to lack the balanced distribution of devolution, administratively and financially. It also ignores the development of human resources in a way that reflects real needs and intended outcomes. Thus, the research confirms the need for a more coherent institutional arrangement at each spatial level and on the governance structure existing between the various spatial levels, while remaining consistent with the political system. The end result should be more autonomy for regional authorities, while maintaining national consistency.