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Saudi Arabia is poised to establish more smart industrial zones

Story Highlights
  • Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef described smart cities as one of the engines of industrial growth

RIYADH — The first edition of the Global Smart City Forum 2024 concluded in Riyadh on Tuesday with a revelation that Saudi Arabia is poised to create more smart industrial zones. The two-day forum saw several deliberations focusing on the future of smart cities and the challenges facing their infrastructure. The forum stressed the importance of integrating smart energy solutions for a sustainable future. It was revealed in the forum that the smart industrial zones would have great opportunities for the future in the fields of manufacturing and mining.

Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majed Al-Hogail inaugurated the forum, organized by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, at Riyadh Arena. A large number of global city experts, specialists in data, artificial intelligence and digital solutions, smart city engineers, investors and economic policy makers from 40 countries participated in the conference under the theme “A Better Life”.

In his speech, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef described smart cities as one of the engines of industrial growth, technology diffusion and sustainable industrial development. “There is a growing need in the industry and mining sectors to establish smart industrial cities that enhance the presence and adoption of technology in factories and mining sites,” he said.

The minister that today’s manufacturing scene requires factories to be part of the technology system based on advanced digital infrastructure, and to provide basic services such as communication, cybersecurity, and cloud solutions, with the participation of technology partners who are able to facilitate delivery applications and operate the chain within factories where smart services have become linked to the smart industrial city itself.

In his speech at the conclusion of the forum, DrEsam Al-Wagait, director of the National Information Center at SDAIA, stressed that the forum was not only a meeting of minds, but a beacon of hope for the sustainable, comprehensive and smart urban nature that the Kingdom aspires to create. “The mission of all of us is to create urban spaces where technology serves humanity, enhances the quality of life and preserves the environment for future generations.”

He pointed out that during the forum, inspiring discussions took place on important topics such as creating green cities and using data to manage them better, improving the mobility, introducing new technologies, and ensuring that the city services in the Kingdom are at the highest level. “The discussions emphasized the importance of integrating smart energy solutions for a sustainable future as well as promoting a smart economy that thrives on innovation, ensuring smart governance by enhancing transparency and efficiency, revolutionizing mobility through intelligent transportation systems, and prioritizing human well-being through smart healthcare and smart education. These are the pillars of our smart cities that reflect our aspirations for an interconnected and flexible and prosperous urban system,” he said.

Al-Wagait said: “By harnessing the huge amounts of data that are generated daily, from traffic flow data and energy use to demand for public services, we can make informed decisions that lead to more efficient, sustainable and responsive cities. Data also allows us to anticipate needs and simplify services and communication with citizens directly,” he said.

Al-Wagait said that SDAIA is in the forefront of smart city initiatives. “SDAIA is firmly adopting the responsibility of activating and developing artificial intelligence and data technologies within smart cities.” He also announced the launch of SDAIA Center for Congestion Solutions using data and artificial intelligence as part of its commitment to making progress.

In his speech, Chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation Abdulaziz Al-Duailej said that the rapid developments witnessed by the aviation sector in Saudi Arabia at the present time are a natural product of the outcomes of Saudi Vision 2030, which aimed to bring about a fundamental change in the structure of the Saudi economy as this vital sector is a mirror that reflects the development of cities and societies.

The forum witnessed the launch of the Center of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence in Industry and Mining, established by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, in cooperation with SDAIA. The forum saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between SDAIA and the Diriyah Company for Qualifying Human Resources in the field of artificial intelligence and smart cities. The authority also concluded an agreement with the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to provide training services for the latest technologies used in the field of application development and technical innovations.

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