RIYADH--MHP Communications has been charged with providing global communications support for the multibillion dollar Riyadh Metro project, which aims to radically transform public transport in the fast-growing city.

The agency was selected following a competitive tender by the Saudi capital city's government planning body, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA).

The brief is thought to be worth at least $1m, encompassing a public relations programme that supports the Riyadh Metro’s current global procurement process through to its construction and development.

The communications effort aims to drive behaviour change and encourage uptake of the planned metro system among Riyadh car users, who are regularly subject to chronic traffic congestion. In addition to Saudis, MHP will also aim to generate support among regional and international audiences.

The Riyadh Metro project will introduce six metro lines, a city-wide bus system, and park and ride facilities into a city with little existing public transport infrastructure. Zaha Hadid has been appointed to design a key interchange station.

The project is overseen by the ADA, which has shortlisted four consortia to build the system, although one of these - Australia's Strabag - pulled out of contention last month.

The communications programme is being led by MHP head of corporate Mark Cater, overseeing an agency team that includes media relations, political advocacy, digital and social media, design, marketing, advertising and strategic planning.

"Our communications programme will help maximise understanding amongst local communities and regional and global influencers of the unprecedented opportunities brought by this world-class public transport system," said Cater.

MHP will run the business from offices in Riyadh and London.