According to ENGIE Solutions, an international pioneer in sustainable energy solutions, the UAE and Saudi Arabia (KSA) are adopting digital transformation strategies the fastest in the MENA region and will soon be home to green smart cities.
Speaking at the Smart Cities and Communities of Tomorrow seminar hosted by the France Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Ian Harfield, Managing Director of ENGIE Solutions (GCC), said: “As populations around the world grow, cities and communities are increasingly looking to implement green digital initiatives that offer greater connectivity of infrastructure and services, as well as energy efficiency, generating emissions and cost savings.”
Governments in the UAE and Saudi Arabia acknowledge that data-driven innovation is critical to city economic success, with Abu Dhabi increasing 14 places in the IMD Smart City Index for 2021, to 28th out of 118 cities, and Riyadh jumping 23 places to 30th.
Long-term partnership between the government and the private sector, according to Harfield, will hasten the transition to sustainable smart cities, boosting the population’s overall quality of life, and inhabitants are increasingly expecting their cities to be ecologically friendly.
Also speaking at the event, Louis Frederic Robin, ENGIE’s Head of Low Carbon Cities & Public Lighting, said that smart cities built on data were key to urban planning, “Using integrated and tailor-made solutions, we can recognize the needs of citizens to make urban spaces more sustainable. Our solutions not only optimize costs and the way public services such as lighting, waste, urban mobility, green spaces, buildings, parking, and water are managed. At the same time, they improve the quality of life of residents, in addition to reducing an urban area’s environmental footprint, which is our focus.”
Robin also mentioned ENGIE’s 50-year work with Ohio State University in the United States to decarbonize and upgrade the university’s 485-building campus. He stressed how similar agreements may be conducted in the region’s main urban areas.
According to a new survey by Mastercard, Smart Dubai and Expo 2020, living in a sustainable city is the most intriguing innovation in future smart cities for more than half of UAE respondents (53 percent).
The Smart Cities seminar was also attended by Khalid Al Marzooqi, CEO of Tabreed, Dr Mohammad Al Awadhi, Senior Director Business Development – Smart City of du, Bashar Kilani, Managing Director, Accenture Middle East, Christophe Papin, Smart Solutions Director, Siradel, Sanjay Kumar Sainani, Senior Vice-President & CTO, Huawei Digital Power, and Jim Campbell, Regional Director, Red Engineering.
The senior executives highlighted best practices, case studies, and examples of how cities and communities are pushing investments in new technologies and data usage during the discussion.