Riyadh Urban Observatory

Working under the umbrella of RCRC, Riyadh Urban Observatory (RUO) is tasked with developing sustainable urban monitoring systems that support comprehensive planning across Riyadh. It also facilitates and promotes partnerships among the various public and private bodies operating in the city.

Logo of Riyadh Urban Observatory

Logo of Riyadh Urban Observatory

The RUO is a key tool that leverages all urban planning efforts to achieve a comprehensive vision of the de facto situation in the city and its future trends and target them carefully to effectively achieve the sustainable urban development according to three local (MEDSTAR), national (Saudi Vision 2030 / National Transformation Program 2020 and 2025) and global (UN SDGs 2030) visions.

Organizational Structure

Observatory Council

The functions of the RUO Council include:

  • Approve the periodic report and urban indicators.
  • Approve the prioritized urban and development topics.
  • Approve mechanisms for developing strategies and policies, as well as evaluation and follow-up procedures.
  • Set out the RUO scope of work.

RUO Executive Committee

Composed of 15 members, RUO Executive Committee shall:

  • Approve RUO work programs.
  • Determine the general framework for urban indicators.
  • Identify the issues of development priority.
  • Propose practical steps and conduct studies to address the challenges highlighted by the indicators’ results.

RUO Center

Working groups: The working groups comprise representatives from about 60 entities operating in the city that together form a network of strategic partners who act as liaison officers grouped as follows:

  • Environment and Utilities Sector Working Group
  • Service Sector and Security Sector Working Group
  • Social Development Working Group
  • Private Sector Working Group
  • Civil Society Working Group
  • Knowledge Society Working Group

Technical units:  The technical units are responsible for formulating the methodology of selecting the urban indicators and developing mechanisms for analysis, review, audit, and reporting. These units shall:

  • Collect data and conduct field surveys.
  • Analyze data and calculate indicators.
  • Publication and public relations

Key Segments of Urban Indicators

  1. Identifying indicators: They measure the basic demographics and urban growth of the city in general.
  2. Economic development indicators: They focus on the economic ecosystem and competitiveness, as well as living standards across the city. They also measure job creation plans, and the efforts to maintain balance between the city’s growth and its economic efficiency.
  3. Public service indicators: They measure the quality of health, education, security and emergency services.
  4. Social development indicators: They measure divorce rates, spinsterhood, and data about female-headed households.
  5. Sustainable transport indicators: They focus on metropolitan transportation efficiency and safety, means of transportation used across the city, and accident statistics.
  6. Infrastructure development indicators: They focus on the sectors of electricity, water, sanitation and telecommunications.
  7. Housing indicators: They measure the availability, adequacy and affordability of housing options in the city.
  8. Sustainable environment indicators: They measure pollution rates, and resource efficiency and sustainability.
  9. Local administration indicators: They measure the local administration efficiency, civil society organizations engagement, and population satisfaction.
  10. Entertainment indicators: They measure the availability of recreational facilities and public spaces and the efficiency of their distribution.
  11. Smart sustainable cities indicators: They measure the performance in the fields of economy, environment, society and culture as they relate to sustainable smart city strategies.

Data sources

The RUO draws on data from a variety of sources including its field surveys and contributions of the following bodies:

  • Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC)
  • Alriyadh Municipality
  • General Authority for Statistics
  • Ministry of Interior
  • General Department of Education in Riyadh Region
  • Police of Riyadh Province
  • National Water Company
  • Saudi Electricity Company
  • Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Communications and Information Technology Commission
  • Riyadh Health Affairs General Directorate


  • Ministry of Transport
  • Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Commerce and Investment
  • Ministry of Culture and Information
  • Riyadh Traffic Department
  • The General Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Protection
  • King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology
  • General Organization for Social Insurance
  • Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority
  • General Authority of Civil Aviation – King Khalid International Airport

RUO Forums

First Forum: In 2013, the RUO launched a set of 80 basic international/local urban indicators in its First Forum.

Second Forum: In 2016, RUO inaugurated its Second Forum, and released an improved framework for urban indicators with 117 urban indicators covering the key urban issues in the city.

Third Forum: In 2019, RUO launched its Third Forum and issued a comprehensive framework with 180 urban indicators aligned with the RCRC broader mandate.

Worldwide Engagement

  • First session of the UN-Habitat Assembly (Workshop: The role of data in sustainable urban development) – May 2019
  • The 9th meeting of United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC)  – October 2019
  • Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF 10)

Global Achievements

Riyadh named a “local 2030 data hub” by WCCD:  Riyadh was one of eight cities selected by the World Council of Cities Data (WCCD)  to be the “local 2030 data hubs”, which culminates the city’s achievements in this field especially winning the WCCD ISO 37120 golden certification.

Certificate of Satisfactory Implementation of the U4SSC KPIs for Smart Sustainable Cities: The Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) received the Certificate of Satisfactory Implementation of the U4SSC KPIs for Smart Sustainable Cities awarded to the City of Riyadh by the United Nations’ U4ssc (United for Smart Sustainable Cities) initiative during the 9th ITU Green Standards Week held in Valencia, Spain (1-4 October 2019). In addition to Riyadh, Valencia (Spain), Alesund (Norway), Moscow (Russia) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) were recognized with the certificate out of over 100 cities worldwide already implementing these KPIs. The certificate was awarded upon the recommendation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the United Nations Human Settlements Program(UN-HABITAT).

RUO Website