Under the patronage of HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz, Prince of Aseer Region, the Municipality of Aseer organized a workshop on the “Rural Development in the Regional Development Strategies” in the city of Abha – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on June 8, 2010. The workshop was organized in cooperation with UN-HABITAT.
A number of prominent experts participated in the workshop, and discussed the three main themes: 1) The Theoretical Dimensions of Rural Development, 2) Practical Experiences in Rural Development, and 3) Rural Development Mechanisms in Aseer Region.
The first session was initiated by a presentation for Mr. Ali Shabou, Chief of UN-HABITAT in Amman. Mr. Shabou affirmed the need for comprehensive basis as a foundation for the international development, in addition to the need for enhanced rural – urban linkages. Moreover, he also pointed to the cultures between rural and urban areas, and stressed upon the rural-urban development and the need to reconsider the international trade agreements.
In addition, Prof. Tarik Wafeeq discussed the spatial development and the concentration of economic growth in major cities and capitals. He also discussed development problems, rural development, features of the typical development model and the Saudi experience.
ESCWA Expert, Dr. Adib Nemeh, presented the contribution to the rural development mechanisms as well as all elements related to this concept and comparison of development, including vision and methodology, besides to the development of effective policies for practical interference and the implementation method which should be based upon decentralization, good governance and participation.
On the other hand, Dr. Hatem Taha, Director of Regional Development Division in AL-Madinah Al-Munawarah Region, presented rural development and the success of regional planning and the effectiveness of participation, schemes and programs, and the identification of service needs in the assessment of services provided to the citizens.
The second session, “Practical Experiences in Rural Development”, included a presentation by Prof. Majdi Rabi’, from the College of Urban and Regional Planning / University of Cairo, where he discussed the self-development of rural communities (Lessons Learned from the Urban Experience).
In addition, Dr. Abdul Karim Bin Khalaf Al-Howaish, Associate Prof. in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning / King Faisal University in Dammam, presented the rural system in the Kingdom and he National Spatial Strategy. Dr. Al-Howaish stressed the importance of holding such specialized workshops on rural development. Dr. Mohammad Shibli / King Khalid University, presented as well the rural land - use changes in Aseer Region.
In another presentation, Director of Development Centers in Aseer Region, Mr. Abdullah Bin Ali Bin Aftan, discussed the experience of the centers in the region.
In the third session, Hi Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ali Al-Nuaim, Chairman of AUDI Board of Trustees presented the significant success of the institute and it achievements in the Kingdom. Moreover, Eng. Khalid Al-Jabir and Dr. Hosni Al-Sayyed also participated in this session, where they discusses the rural sector and its role in the development of the regional plan in Aseer as well as presenting its database and its role in supporting the region’s rural development process.
At the conclusion of the sessions, the Under-Secretary of Aseer Region presented the recommendations of the workshop, including the following: The commitment to the directions of the regional plan for the achievement of a targeted and well-measured rural development, the support to the development of a common annual budget for the region in the light of the recommendations of the plan, besides to the focus upon technical dimensions and information systems, and the establishment of computer units in all development centers in the region, as well as the establishment of a comprehensive database to support decision-making process. The recommendations also included the adoption of local development methodologies besides to the engagement of all development partners, and the completion of all aspects in the regional development plan, in addition to the development of a legal frame for the scheme’s outputs for the preparation of the sectoral plans, and to control the mass expansion and to reserve the unique characteristics of Aseer region, and to encourage the growth and merge of neighboring villages for the formation of small cities that are able to accommodate a greater number of population, and to conduct a comprehensive study, including a survey for the local raw materials and the technical heritage in all villages, besides to conducting the required feasibility study for the production of these raw materials.