Al Ahram Foundation seminar:
Smart Cities in Arab World to foster sustainable socio-economic growth
Dr. Abou Zaki: Smart cities focus on the integration of knowledge and technology, fostering education and scientific research, and streamlining the educational process to make learning opportunities accessible for everyone
There are significant advancements in the Arab world's efforts to enhance the concept of smart cities in the region, which play a major role in fostering economic and social growth while elevating the quality of life for societies, according to Dr. Nidal Abou Zaki, Founder and Managing Director of Orient Planet Group.
Speaking at a seminar ‘Smart Cities in the Arab World and their Socio-Economic Impact’, organised by Al Ahram Foundation at its headquarters in Cairo, Dr. Abou Zaki emphasised that the integration of information technology and data analysis in enhancing the management of assets, resources, and services enables smart cities to create a progressive environment. This, he said, nurtures sustainable development, creates new job opportunities, improves societal well-being, and facilitates a more convenient and sustainable way of life.
Dr. Abou Zaki explained, “The concept of smart cities has emerged as a tool to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges arising from urbanisation. Its objective is to create inventive solutions for diverse challenges - including transportation, healthcare, education, unemployment, while also addressing the needs of citizens and promoting long-term sustainability.”
“Smart cities take a proactive approach to resource management and economic infrastructure improvement. They prioritise the integration of knowledge and technology, foster education and scientific research, and facilitate a more accessible learning process. This inclusivity extends through online platforms, blended learning techniques, and the incorporation of augmented reality (AR) and audio-visual (AV) elements in education. Therefore, these efforts contribute significantly to the advancement of emerging sectors such as technology, digital transformation, renewable energy, and innovation,” he added.
Dr. Abou Zaki emphasised the need for smart services provided in future cities to reach both urban and rural areas, improving quality of life in remote regions through essential services like public transport, telehealth, e-learning, and smart workplaces. "Exploring the future of smart cities in Arab countries brings us a step closer to fulfilling the aspirations of local communities to promote knowledge, economic, social, and environmental growth and make use of successful global experiences in the field of smart city transformation, especially by focusing on targeted sectors to meet the needs of society,” he said.
He further noted that the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as the city of ‘The Line’ in Saudi Arabia, ‘New Administrative Capital’ in Egypt, and Rabat in Morocco are the most prominent Arab models of innovation in the design of smart cities.
Dr. Abou Zaki discussed the positive developments in Egypt’s ‘New Administrative Capital’, highlighting its advanced infrastructure and a state-of-the-art digital services system based on cutting-edge technology. He noted that Egypt is working on establishing several other smart cities featuring integrated infrastructure - including New Alamein, Al Galala City, New Mansoura, as well as other key advancements in other cities in Upper Egypt, thus promoting promising prospects for smart cities in the country.
“The global population is expected to increase by 25 per cent to about 10 billion by 2050. Today, 55 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas, a figure which is projected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. This surge in urbanisation positions cities as fundamental catalysts for economic advancement, shaping them into multifaceted hubs where people will reside, work, innovate, and utilise substantial resources. Consequently, the evolution of smart cities will assume a central role in advancing worldwide initiatives for clean and sustainable energy production. This requires an ideal balance between economic and social development, while preserving natural resources by transforming future cities into smart and sustainable ones that provide comprehensive and integrated services to society and enjoy an eco-friendly lifestyle that keeps pace with the requirements and challenges of significant population growth,” Dr. Abou Zaki concluded.
Dr. Abou Zaki recently launched his latest book, ‘Smart Cities in the Arab World and Their Socio-Economic Impact.’ This publication explores the links between technology, society, the economy, and the environment. Offering valuable insights, the book delves into the challenges encountered by numerous Arab countries as they navigate the transition to the concept of smart cities. It sheds light on their efforts to cultivate robust technological infrastructure, enabling them to stay aligned with rapid developments while adhering to best practices and international standards.