An announcement today outlined a deal with Cisco for information and communication technology for the Prince Abdulaziz Bin Musaed Economic City (PABMEC), which is being built within the northern Saudi city of Hail. The deal outlines quad-play connectivity (data,voice, video and mobile) to all businesses and residents. The network architecture will also provide a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) infrastructure to enable automated asset tracking across the city.
The city is designed as an integrated commerce and industry hub with an international airport, rail link, dry port and supply chain centre. The location within one hour flight time from 11 middle east capitals makes it a natural commerce hub.
The use of RFID for constant tracking of assets within the city’s border could make it the first city with always-on location that doesn’t have to worry about the limitations of satellite positioning. The release stresses the importance of connectivity to transform real estate, logistics, agriculture, energy and mining. Geospatial applications will likely abound in these sectors to handle routing, tracking and logistics. Adding great efficiency to the movement of goods within the city’s border.
Saudi Arabia is investing $8 billion to build the infrastructure for this logistics and services center. The funds come from surpluses due to soaring oil prices (in 2005 alone, there was a surplus of $57 Billion). This agricultural city currently has 600,000 residents, and it’s expected that this expansion will add 400,000 residents and 30,000 jobs.
PABMEC is one of four new cities that are being developed in the western half of Saudi Arabia. The others are the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh at SR, on the coast north of Jeddah at $27 Billion, Knowledge Economic City in Al-Madinah (KECM) at $6.7 billion, and Jizan Economic City (JEC) at $8 Billion.
It’s clear that these investments will set the tone for the region and for future mega-city projects elsewhere. The well-though master planning that takes into account the full benefit of today’s technology will ensure long-term sustainability of these investments.