Sheikh Ibrahim M. Alissa, chairman of the Madina-based Knowledge Economic City (KEC) and John Chambers, chairman and chief executive officer of Cisco today confirmed that a strategic agreement has been finalised for the infrastructure development of the five-million-square-metre 'smart city' project.
The project is designed to attract global information and communications technology (ICT) firms to establish operations and R&D facilities in Saudi, as well as creating more than 20,000 jobs within the city. Residents should benefit as well, with the initiative providing an attractive and interconnected living environment.
The Knowledge Economic City's expected aggregated investment is approximately $8 billion in the overall development of the city. As part of its 'connected real estate' initiative, Cisco will provide the network architecture for the city.
All buildings in KEC will be interconnected and can be managed over a highly secure Internet Protocol (IP) network, allowing for centralised management and reduced operational costs for the city. The city's network will facilitate data, voice, video and mobile communications across commercial and residential buildings.
KEC's chairman Sheikh Ibrahim M. Alissa, chief executive officer Tahir Bawazir and chief technology officer Mohammad Shah were among those present. Also present was Dr Sami Baroum, managing director of Savola Co, a major shareholder in KEC.
"Smart cities rely on a being able to connect - from basic high-speed connectivity to connected real estate - and then complementing with value-added services for businesses and residents," said Sheikh Ibrahim M. Alissa, chairman of KEC. "Teaming up with Cisco will help us provide the Knowledge Economic City with a world-class infrastructure that will help businesses reduce capital and operating expenses by being able to have more visibility across their locations and operations."
"We are committed to boosting the Saudi economy by attracting foreign direct investments, creating jobs and encouraging Muslim scientists to relocate to Saudi by providing them with the right working and living conditions," the Sheikh added.
Chief technical officer Mohammad Shah said that upon signing the agreement, KEC can embark on the build and design of infrastructure to help create the envisioned world class 'smart city' KEC is to become.
"The Knowledge City project in Saudi Arabia will demonstrate how technology innovations can bring about new levels of development of brand new cities that will help attract knowledge industries and investments while favourably impacting management and operational costs," said Wim Elfrink, executive vice president and chief globalisation officer for Cisco. "Cisco's connected real estate initiative, developed to be a globally replicable model, has the potential to play a major role in transforming real estate developments in emerging economies."
To further develop the human capital in Saudi Arabia, Cisco is also committed to establishing the Cisco Networking Acadethin the Knowledge Economic City to help train skilled professionals to design and maintain networks. Academies will play a key role in helping to address the shortfall of local technology talent in the Kingdom.
About Knowledge Economic City at Madina
KEC Madina is one of four economic cities being developed in Saudi Arabia to boost regional development and provide employment for the country's growing population by focusing on Intellectual Property, Knowledge-based industries, medical, hospitality, tourism and multi-media.
The project is located at Al-Madina, the home of the Prophet where the Quran was compiled. The project has special significance for Muslims throughout the world because of its location.
KEC is designed as a project to position Saudi Arabia and young Saudi Arabian entrepreneurs as internationally respected leaders in knowledge-based industries and aims to attract and develop talent from around the world. It will provide them with opportunities on a global scale while providing investors and entrepreneurs with infrastructure, opportunity, a unique pool of talent and the potential for a healthy return on investment.
More than 20,000 jobs and accommodation for about 150,000 people will be created by the project which will have an aggregated investment of more than SR30 billion and take up to 8-10 years to complete.