Makkah to be transformed into a world-class smart city

September 19, 2008

An international conference on intelligent cities will be held in Makkah in January next 2009, the Arab News reported today. The objective is to transform Makkah into a smart city with advanced technological facilities.


The conference is expected to bring together a large number of experts from around the world to discuss the best ways to apply the intelligent city concept to Makkah.

Governor of Makkah Province Prince Khalid Al-Faisal will open the two-day event at Umm Al-Qura University’s King Abdulaziz Historical Hall on January 19. It is being organized by the Makkah Municipality in association with the Communications and Information Technology Commission and the Hajj Research Center.

“This is the largest conference on intelligent cities to be held in the Kingdom,” Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar told the Arab News. “It aims at expediting the use of smart city technologies in Makkah for the benefit of the millions of pilgrims who come to the city every year for Hajj and Umrah.”

Al-Bar said the conference would contribute to improving the municipal services for both citizens and pilgrims. 

“This conference is an initiative to apply smart city technologies in the Kingdom and transform it into a knowledge-based society and a digital economy,” he said. In addition, intelligent city facilities will speed up communication with the outside world and boost cultural, economic and commercial development, Al-Bar noted, adding that the conference would discuss successful experiments in the field at national and international levels.

The transformation of Makkah into a world-class intelligent city will help meet the needs of pilgrims from around the world, Mohammed Maqazi, head of the conference’s scientific committee, told the Arab News.

“The pilgrims need accommodations, meals, information and communication channels, and various modes of transportation. A combination of the latest technologies that integrate fixed and wireless broadband networks, fixed and mobile GIS and GPS applications, and user-friendly information and communications points can greatly enhance the visitors experience, and the city's objective of quality services to the visitors of the holy sites,” he explained.

The conference will address e-government, safety control systems and security applications, intelligent city management applications, and how to develop a large community of users with ICT skills. Also on the agenda are workshops on e-government services suite, GIS based planning and management applications, mobile GIS emergency response applications, security, law enforcement and safety control applications.