Saudi Vision for a Happy City
Analyzing architecture students’ perspective for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Keywords:Urban Design, happiness, Saudi VIsion 2030, quality of life, wellbeing
Launched in 2016 to bring wellbeing to its citizens through the diversification of its economy, Saudi Arabia has gained much appreciation with its Saudi Vision 2030. Among its themes, the vision includes the 'A Vibrant Society' which aims to facilitate happy and fulfilling lives through the development of livable cities. The goal is to have three cities among the top 100 livable cities in the world. Riyadh is the nation’s capital and biggest city. It represents Saudi Arabia as a whole and as such, is a promising candidate to be one of Saudi’s most livable cities. This article argues that the vision for Riyadh should facilitate a ‘vibrant society’ comprised of happy citizens. To further our understanding of ‘happiness’, we focused on the ‘Vision for Riyadh city’ in the ‘Quality of Life Program’, which was developed as part of the ‘Vibrant Society Theme’ under the Saudi Vision 2030. It was compared with design proposals by architecture students from Prince Sultan University for urban spaces in Riyadh made between 2016-2019. Our analysis clarifies the extent to which the students’ vision for the city resonated with the administrative plans for Riyadh. Similarities between the visions reveal that the Saudi Vision 2030 is aligned with the students’ preferences and the views of citizens, while differences indicate the need for a more collaborative approach to developing Riyadh’s city vision; one in which students can play a vital role along with their professors and city administrators to ensure the development of a harmonious and ‘happy’ city.
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