What can we learn from Riyadh? What does this massive desert capital teach us about cities that other, better-studied places don't? This article examines the making of one of the most salient characteristics of Riyadh: its carscape. In 2000, 93 percent of all daily trips in Riyadh were done by private car, 5 percent were done by taxi, and 2 percent were done by collective transit, which means that private or hired cars were used in 98 percent of all 5 million daily trips in the city. The city looks today like a geometric, far-flung suburb crisscrossed by large highways and spotted with bouquets of high rises. Instead of developing around one central core in a contiguous manner, Riyadh grew around the massive usage of cars. Why and how did the suburbanization of Riyadh happen? How did Saudi automobility become the overwhelming social and political structure it is now?

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