• | 11:30 am

KSA to build 200 smart cities and automate 4,000 factories

To achieve its tech ambitions, Saudi Arabia has been keen on investing in emerging technologies

KSA to build 200 smart cities and automate 4,000 factories
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, keen on adopting emerging technologies to improve the way people live in its cities, has already revealed plans to build 200 smart cities. 

To further this initiative, it has now launched a new challenge, ‘Smartathon’, with an aim to apply artificial intelligence (AI) for safer, healthier, and of course, smarter cities. 

Abdullah Al Ghamdi, head of Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, made the announcement at the Global AI Summit, as Majid Al Hogail, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, revealed the plans to unveil a number of smart cities in partnership with SDAIA and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. 

The challenge aims to encourage smart solutions using AI to design better urban landscapes in the Kingdom. Additionally, it would offer a platform for developing talents and competencies in the fields of smart cities, data and artificial intelligence. 


Along with building cities using AI technology, Saudi Arabia has moved in favor of automating 4,000 factories to curb reliance on low-skilled workers. More than 10,000 manufacturers, dispersed across 40 industrial cities, are located throughout the Kingdom, contributing 11% of the nation’s GDP with a gross rate of 10%.

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources launched ‘The Future Factories Program’ to build a robust tech ecosystem which would transform the manufacturing sector in the country. 

“Advanced manufacturing and AI-based technologies are no longer a luxury or a choice but have become inevitable to ensure growth and profitability,” Minister Bandar Alkhorayef said on Wednesday. He added that the industrial growth strategy is centered on employing AI and emerging technologies.

AI technologies are being applied within the ministry itself to offer insight and help decision-making procedures. “We believe there’s a huge opportunity to transform, and we invite all technology companies, consulting firms, and service providers to join this effort,” he added.

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