Smart Cities: Case studies from the UK and GCC

The presentation “Smart Cities — Case studies from the UK and the GCC” was given by Akin Adamson, Saudi British Joint Business Council member. (AN photo)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Smart Cities: Case studies from the UK and GCC

  • “I think the Saudi Arabia that we will see in ten years will be unrecognizable from what we see today”

JEDDAH: Speakers at the second day of the Saudi Smart Cities Summit and Expo lauded Saudi Arabia for its efforts to transform its cities along modern lines by rapidly implementing smart systems.

The presentation “Smart Cities — Case studies from the UK and the GCC” was given by Akin Adamson, Saudi British Joint Business Council member. 

It talked about the experiences of different UK and GCC cities with respect to how they have implemented smart cities, the approaches they have taken, stages of development and some examples of what they have achieved.

“In this region, there’s a lot of investment going into government smart systems or smart platforms,” Adamson told Arab News.

“The same is true in the UK. The government is heavily investing in smart systems and smart platforms, both at a national level and a city wide level. There are UK applications but there are also approaches being taken by the different cities whether it’s London, Glasgow, Bristol, or Newcastle, and I think that’s reflected in this region as well.

“You have some federal initiatives but you also have cities doing the right things, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and I think Saudi Arabia is relatively joined up because of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) leading the smart city push.”

He added that “MOMRA is coordinating across the major cities in Saudi, so I think if anything, the Kingdom has learned from other areas to try and have some level of commonality rather than different cities doing the right things.”

He said that looking at the whole GCC, the Kingdom is in a strong position. 

“Dubai is a regional leader because they started earlier. Some other countries across the GCC are also doing things: Kuwait is just starting on that journey now, but in the 18 months to 2 years that I’ve been coming to Saudi Arabua, I’ve seen a rapid acceleration of initiatives.

“I would say the Kingdom has gone from being a follower to a regional leader.”

He said Saudi Vision 2030 is incredibly ambitious, and that the Kingdom’s investments have dramatically changed Saudi Arabia and will create more significant changes by 2030.

“I think the Saudi Arabia that we will see in ten years will be unrecognizable from what we see today. 

“It will be a different place in many positive ways. I’ve seen the change in the past couple of years; a pace of change that quite frankly would scare lots of other countries, but Saudi Arabia seems to be managing it.”

Adamson added: “It’s an ambitious program but we’re already seeing early results, and ten years is a long time in this sphere. What people have in their hands today means things don’t take generations anymore, they take a small number of years. Investments Saudi Arabia is making now will dramatically change what we will see in ten years time.”

It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

Updated 04 April 2020

It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

  • Saudi foreign and energy ministers say Moscow's claim that Kingdom withdrew from the OPEC+ deal was unfounded
  • They said it was Russia that abandoned the agreement, leading to a collapse in world oil prices

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign and energy ministers on Saturday denied Russia's claim that the Kingdom abandoned the OPEC+ deal, leading to a collapse in world oil prices.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said "a statement attributed to one of the media of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation claimed that one of the reasons for the decline in oil prices was the Kingdom's withdrawal from the deal of OPEC + and that the Kingdom was planning to get rid of shale oil producers."

"The minister affirmed that what was mentioned is fully devoid of truth and that the withdrawal of the Kingdom from the agreement is not correct," the statement said.

In fact Saudi Arabia and 22 other countries tried to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the deal, but Russia did not agree, it said.

Prince Farhan expressed surprise that Russia had to resort to "falsifying facts" when Saudi Arabia's stance on shale oil production is known, the statement said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the main investors in the energy sector in United States, implying that there is no reason for the Kingdom "to get rid of shale oil producers" as Russia has claimed.

He further said the Kingdom "is also seeking to reach more cuts and achieve oil market equilibrium for the interest of shale oil producers."

OPEC+ refers to the cooperation between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers. The cooperation deal which called for cuts in production by the producers was meant to stabilize oil prices. 

In a separate statement, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman rejected Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s similar claim that the Kingdom refused to extend the OPEC+ deal and withdrew from it.

Novak "was the first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments starting from the first of April," Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement.

He said Novak's statement led other countries to decide "to raise their production to offset the lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns." 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia called for an urgent meeting of oil exporters after US President Donald Trump said he expected the Kingdom and Russia to cut production by 10-15 million barrels per day.

Prince Farhan said he was "hoping that Russia would take the right decisions in the urgent meeting" so that a "fair agreement that restores the desired balance of oil markets" could be achieved.

The global oil market has crashed, with prices falling to $34 a barrel from $65 at the beginning of the year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fuel demand has dropped by roughly a third, or 30 million barrels per day, as billions of people worldwide restrict their movements.

A global deal to reduce production by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels per day would require participation from nations that do not exert state control over output, including the United States, now the world’s largest producer of crude.

A meeting of OPEC and allies such as Russia has been scheduled for April 6, but details were thin on the exact distribution of production cuts. No time has yet been set for the meeting, OPEC sources said.