How to transform Makkah into an intelligent city with the aim of improving facilities and services being rendered to the millions of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah, will top the agenda of an international conference that opens at Umm Al-Qura University tomorrow.
Executives of leading international IT companies, including Wim Elfrink of Cisco, Marwan Al-Ahmadi of Zain Saudi Arabia, Charles Savage of KEE International, Siavash Alamouti of Intel, and Charlie Kindel of Microsoft, are expected to attend the conference.
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will open the conference organized by the Makkah municipality in association with the Communications and Information Technology Commission and the Haj Research Center.
“The two-day forum aims at expediting the application of modern intelligent city technologies in Makkah to facilitate the housing and transportation of pilgrims and other guests who come to the city,” said Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar. “We also want to make Makkah a model for other Islamic cities.”
Major speakers include Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel, president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology; Kim Choon-Ho, vice president of Konkuk University in South Korea; John G. Jung, chairman of Intelligent Community Forum; Ahmad Yamani of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority; Mohamed Banten, president of Saudi Post; Abdul Rahman Faqeeh, chairman of Jabal Omar Development Co.; and Mohammad Binladin, vice president of Saudi Binladin Group.
“This is the largest conference on intelligent cities to be held in the Kingdom,” Al-Bar said. He said the conference would contribute to improving the services being rendered by various government departments in Makkah to citizens, residents and pilgrims.
“This conference is an initiative to apply smart city technologies in the Kingdom and develop it into a knowledge-based society and a digital economy,” said Nabeel Koshak, chairman of the organizing committee, adding that it would formulate a vision for the future of intelligent cities in the Kingdom in the light of evolving trends and global initiatives.
The conference will focus on best practices in intelligent cities, intelligent habitats, buildings, homes, and other residential, commercial and public facilities. It will address the specific needs and applications desired for Makkah to become a smart city.
The presence of intelligent city facilities will speed up communication with the outside world and boost cultural, economic and commercial development, Koshak said. “Speakers will present successful experiments in the field at national and international levels,” he added.
The transformation of Makkah into a world-class intelligent city will help address the needs of pilgrims from around the world, said Mohammed Maqazi, head of the conference’s scientific committee.
“The pilgrims need accommodations, meals, information and communication channels, and various modes of transportation,” he said.
A combination of the latest technologies that integrate fixed and wireless broadband networks, fixed and mobile GIS and GPS applications, and user-friendly information and communications points can greatly enhance the visitors’ experience, and the city’s objective of providing quality services to its visitors.
The conference will discuss e-government, safety control systems and security applications, intelligent city management applications, and how to develop a large community of users with ICT skills, Maqazi said.