Smart Cities in the Middle East are on the rise. Today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. This is expected to increase to nearly two-thirds by 2050 according to consulting firm McKinsey. As the population grows, so does the demand for food, clean water, public and private transport, and health care. In short, everything that affects people’s quality of life… and cities are digitally transforming to improve all those aspects of urban life.

This year, McKinsey’s report on the 50 most technologically advanced countries has placed Abu Dhabi in first place in the MENA region.

Smart Cities

Ambitious goals for smart Cities in the Middle East

Spending on technologies designed to enable Smart Cities in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to reach $1.26 billion in 2018, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). The Saudi project NEOM is one of the most ambitious smart city projects to date with an economic area of ​​10,000 square meters and a bridge connecting the new city to Egypt. The city will operate 100% with renewable energy. The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2025. The project was supported and funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund of $500 billion. Similarly, Qatar has started the construction of a 72-square-kilometre ‘smart city’ to host the final of the 2022 World Cup.  It is anticipated to be one of the world’s first entirely smart cities, integrating an unobtrusive system of underground walkways and maintenance tunnels.

The US will experience the larger smart city tech market, as its expending reaches $22 billion in 2018, according to IDC predictions, closely followed by China which is expected to spend $21 billion in 2018.


Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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