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Abu Dhabi is the region's smartest city: Report

Abu Dhabi is the region's smartest city: Report
10 Apr 2024 09:48

ALLAN JACOB (ABU DHABI)

Abu Dhabi's global connectivity, innovative zeal, thriving economy and rapid digital advancements have vaulted it to the 10th spot among global smart cities and the first in the region this year.

In a survey conducted by Switzerland's Institute for Management Development (IMD), the Smart City Index 2024, Abu Dhabi rose from last year's 13th position, while Dubai  improved its ranking to take 12th on the list. Zurich, Oslo, Canberra, Geneva, and Singapore make up the top 5 on the list of 142 cities surveyed by the index.

The UAE has been a leading light in the ease-of-living and ease-of-business indicators post-pandemic, and its cities have been modeled for a digitally diverse future by the visionary leadership that is driving the traditional oil economy to benefit from tourism, space, technology, and AI among others, while building on the gains of its mature real estate, trade, and logistics sectors.

With this remarkable performance, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have joined the ranks of what the Index calls "super champions". So what makes them champions? "With very few exceptions, cities in the top 20 are geographically located in areas where social and economic environments are relatively predictable, even against the overall climate of global uncertainties," said the report.

Residents' views on structures and technology applications were taken and the final score for each city was computed using the perceptions of the last three years of the survey.

The report ranked both Abu Dhabi and Dubai highly for safety (87.4% and 88.5% respectively). Abu Dhabi's culture and leisure scene scored 88.7%, while public transport got a commendable 83.8%. The city's green spaces like parks and mangroves picked up a 84.7% score, and healthcare clocked 86.3%. The UAE's tolerance model has won all-round praise, and Abu Dhabi received a high score of 81% among minorities. Meanwhile, Dubai's health services impressed with 82.2% and public transport got 79.7%.

These cities that have taken "visible initiatives" to improve the quality of lives of citizens (e.g., by developing public transportation networks or eco-compatible mobilities). The report said "super champion" cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai have focused on developing green spaces, attracting talent, and broadening social and cultural activities, while retaining their traditions and culture.

Other notable regional smart cities include Riyadh (25), Makkah (52), and Jeddah (55) in Saudi Arabia. Doha in Qatar followed with 59th place, and Muscat grabbed the 88th spot on the list
Commenting on the report, Bruno Lanvin, President of the Smart City Observatory, part of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said: "Cities must design and adopt strategies that can resist the test of a future plagued with growing uncertainties."

Lanvin said trust and good governance play an important role in smart cities, and added that AI can help urban centres become more "human-centric".

Seoul-based World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO) partnered with IMD to produce the report.

Abu Dhabi is moving ahead with the adoption of smart services in the government and private sector. Transactions are now driven by smartphones, and different sectors of the economy are going digital with gusto. Autonomous transportation systems including cabs and flying taxis are being trialled in the emirate. It is also partnering with cities like Singapore to power its smart transformation into a hub that transcends the present. The future indeed begins here.

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