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Smart infrastructure underpins Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

Stakeholders report increasing investment towards digital platforms to promote greater connectivity across the Kingdom

| | May 14, 2019 | 9:00 am
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Increased investment towards smart solutions and technologies in Saudi Arabia reflects the country’s proactive efforts to use digital platforms to promote greater connectivity as part of efforts to meet the social, economic and environmental objectives of Vision 2030.

Ahmad Farrakh Manzoor

Evidence of this can be seen everywhere, says Ahmad Farrakh Manzoor, Head – Smart Infrastructure (Solutions and Services), Siemens Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “Those of us who have been living in Saudi Arabia for a long time – I am one of them – deeply appreciate how connected everything is already and how easy it is to manage the governmental procedures online and through apps,” he says. “With a plethora of other apps also being developed, such as online parking, we see real actions being taken, and the positive results are also starting to show.”

Dana Salbak

Dana Salbak, Associate, JLL MENA, adds that there is a push from both public and private sector to digitise spaces across Saudi Arabia. “In some malls, there is integration of AI to give a technology experience,” she says, by way of giving an example. Salbak says that there is also large-scale adoption through smart living developments, adding that growing investments in technology are driven by demands of the population to cultivate greater connectivity and have better access to resources.

Khaled Al Mulhim, Business Development Director, Suhaimi Design – Protecooling, shares the same observation, pointing out that digitalisation has helped ease of doing business for local and international investors. “Everything will be electronically utilised, online registration applications are readily available, and most of this has been changed drastically to make the process of bringing investors from outside the Kingdom much easier and make the initiatives go faster and smoother,” he says.

Khaled Al Mulhim

Al Mulhim says the trend is in the construction sector, as well, with the introduction of more digital platforms to promote a more streamlined and efficient tendering process, especially for government projects. This, he says, greatly helps with the application process, obtaining approvals and staging of payments. “Local entities, companies and establishments are shifting towards that direction,” he says. “Everything is going truly digital. Everything will be accessible, and it will be much easier for companies, and done electronically. This is part of our government’s goal – to have more transparency and have the tendering [process] exposed to every party and stakeholder.”

Al Mulhim adds that Saudi Arabia has also been actively encouraging adoption of new and technologically advanced equipment in a bid to speed up energy-efficiency initiatives, and there has been an uptake in government hiring for skilled personnel in the field of technology and IT. “Everybody is focusing on industrial revolution 4.0,” he says. “Everything will have a more technological approach. There is a lot of chance for international companies to invest in these technologies to make them more localised.”

Manzoor says that Siemens has been active in all verticals in the Saudi market in this regard, through its portfolio of ‘Smart Infrastructure’ solutions, which he says, make buildings, grids and industries smarter, resilient, efficient, safe and secure. “Some high-growth verticals include healthcare, where our IoT solutions can enable space optimisation, asset tracking and indoor positioning,” he says. “Imagine the time many hospital staff spend in finding resources, such as wheel chairs. Our indoor IoT sensors can enable staff to find resources via apps and save valuable time.” Manzoor says the same IoT sensors can help reduce electricity bills by maintaining proper ventilation and temperatures as well as optimising space usage.

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