Riyadh has become the first free ‘smart city’ in Saudi Arabia – and indeed the wider Middle East – according to officials speaking at the city’s first free-for-all WiFi hot spot launch yesterday.
At the unveiling of the new internet access zone on Prince Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz Street, part of the city’s Smart Cities Forum event, the Deputy Governor of Riyadh claimed the city will become Saudi Arabia’s first full ‘smart city’, Arab News reported.
According to Smart Cities Forum’s organisers, the establishment of such smart cities in the Kingdom will in turn help the government improve its economic and security related performance.
The Governor of Saudi Telecommunications and IT, Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel, added that other major Saudi cities, such as Jeddah and Madinah, should also become smart cities, since both are now what he called “logistically ready” for such a move.
As a result of yesterday’s launch, anyone in the Prince Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz Street area with a wireless device such as a WiFi-ready notebook PC, smartphone or PDA, can access the internet quickly, easily and for free.
In addition to Prince Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz Street’s new WiFi capability, IT hardware giant Intel also has a WiMAX broadband trial running on The Alia Street; the main downtown strip in Riyadh.
Speaking to Windows Middle East magazine last month, Intel’s regional manager for government affairs, Abdul Rahman Jarrar, explained: “WiMAX will be launching properly soon. We set-up WiMAX on that street, covering several kilometers, so that everyone from end users walking or sipping coffee, to merchants can use this.”