In its quest to diversify its economy, attract foreign investment and tackle unemployment, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) embarked on developing four new ‘˜economic cities’ under the principles of smart city planning. The new cities are overseen by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), a governmental agency established in 2000 to act as a gateway to investment in the KSA. Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Mousaed Economic City (PABMEC) is another one of the four intelligent cities to be developed in the KSA. PABMEC is located 700 km northwest of Riyadh, on the crossroads of trade and transportation routes for the Middle East. The site spans an area of 156 km ², expected to host a population of 80,000 people. The venture’ s vision is to create ‘˜a new hub for logistics in the region’ , focusing on logistics & transportation, agriculture, minerals, construction materials. The focus will be on speedy, comfortable, efficient and low cost connections by road, sea, rail and air, which will attract and encourage logistics companies and travelers to use PABMEC as a new trans-shipment and transit hub. The city’ s master developer is Rakisa Holding. On the governmental side, the Economic Cities Authority is the prime development facilitator; it acts as the one-stop Government servicing centre for the development of PABMEC. The government will support the development by injecting more than SAR 8 billion in roads, railways and infrastructure. In matters of smart city infrastructure, CISCO will undertake the design and implementation of the network infrastructure and connected city services; the city will be wired with high-speed broadband infrastructure, while all urban operations will be managed through Integrated Operations’ Centers, meant to act as the ‘˜brain of the city’ . The masterplan includes residential areas, a logistics & transportation cluster, a commercial zone, an entertainment & tourism zone, an agro-Industrial zone, a business park, a recreation zone, an industrial district, and an education district. The project started in 2009, with initial projected completion date in 2020 that was soon extended to 2025. However, PABMEC is currently just an empty plot of land as construction was stopped because of inadequate financing and challenges in attracting private investment.
Suggested readings about Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Mousaed Economic City:
1. Komninos, N. (2014). The Age of Intelligent Cities: Smart Environments and Innovation-for-all Strategies. Routledge. Available here.
2. Swiss Business Hub GCC & Green Destinations LLC (2010). Economic Cities Saudi Arabia; Opportunity Assessment for Cleantech Companies Available here.
3. Wacklin, S. (2013). Saudi Arabia’s economic cities – big plans, big challenges (in Finnish). Embassy of Finland, Riyadh Available here.