Dhaka looks to establish ties with Riyadh for smart city development

Dhaka looks to establish ties with Riyadh for smart city development
Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Essa Al-Duhailan, left, meets Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul Islam in Dhaka on March 28, 2023. (Dhaka North City Corporation)
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Updated 29 March 2023

Dhaka looks to establish ties with Riyadh for smart city development

Dhaka looks to establish ties with Riyadh for smart city development
  • Riyadh 3rd-smartest city among capitals of G20 states
  • Dhaka seeks sister city relationship to learn Riyadh’s best practices

DHAKA: The Bangladeshi capital wants to establish a sister city relationship with Riyadh to follow its development practices, the local administration said on Wednesday, after a meeting with the Saudi ambassador in Dhaka.

A megacity of more than 22 million people, Dhaka is one of the most densely populated built-up and unsustainable urban areas in the world. It has been struggling to handle its rapid expansion and waste management.

Riyadh, on the other hand, is undergoing rapid modernization under Vision 2030, with vast investment into infrastructure and digital solutions making it the third-smartest city among the capitals of the Group of Twenty states, and the 30th smartest city at global level, according to the 2021 Smart City Index of the IMD World Competitiveness Center and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The possibility of Dhaka’s partnership with Riyadh was raised on Tuesday, during Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Essa Al-Duhailan’s meeting with the Dhaka North City Corp., which governs around 80 percent of the Bangladeshi capital.

“Both Dhaka and Riyadh are capital cities. Riyadh is considered one of the smart cities in the world. We want to follow the best practices of that city,” DNCC Secretary Mohammed Masud Alam Siddique told Arab News.

Dhaka’s sister city relationship with Riyadh would enable the exchange of know-how and best practices. Such ties are long-term partnerships promoting joint cultural, research, and development projects between two geographically and politically distinct localities.

“If a sister city agreement is in place, it would become easier to exchange ideas and boost cooperation,” Siddique said.

“Our councilors, city corporation officials, could receive training in Riyadh, especially on waste management, traffic management, mosquito control ... During the discussion (with the Saudi ambassador), the issue of waste management was on the table. The ambassador explained the waste management systems of Riyadh, and we were interested in this.”

As the Saudi capital has much of its services for residents digitalized, Dhaka is keen to follow in its footsteps under Bangladeshi’s own development vision.

“Our prime minister has the vision to build a smart Bangladesh by the year 2041. To achieve this target, first of all, we need to build smart cities,” Siddique added.

“In Riyadh, any citizen can avail of any service from the city corporation sitting at home through a mobile phone. We want to adopt this system.”

So far, Dhaka has such an agreement with only one other capital, Lima, the largest city in Peru.

To develop sister ties with the Saudi capital, top officials from Riyadh and Dhaka would have to agree on terms to facilitate cooperation.

“We will send a proposal soon. Once they accept it, a memorandum of understanding will define in which areas we are interested to work together,” Siddique said. “We hope it will be possible by the next two to four months.”