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  • Huawei

    Connectivity and Intelligence Help Industrial Cities Evolve

Welcome to the Keynote series for New Horizons, the podcast channel for Huawei’s ICT Insights Magazine. Please join us as we listen to tech industry experts and thought leaders. Today, we’re at the 2018 Smart City Expo in Barcelona, Spain with Ayman Al-Harbi, the IT & Smart City Director for the Royal Commission in Jubail & Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. Mr. Al-Harbi explains how The Commission is transforming two aging industrial cities into modern Smart Cities by utilizing cloud and big data technologies. Let’s listen to the whole story!

Thank you everyone. Glad to be here again. In a bit, you will understand why I said again.

We are lucky enough in the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. The scenario behind those cities actually, it has been since 1975 when the late king, King Khalid, declared that we have to make two industrial cities.

Now, it’s growing. We have Jubail, we have Yanbu, we have Ras Al-Khair, and we have Jazan also.

This is in terms of industrial cities. When his Excellency, his Royal Highness Prince Hamad announced his Vision 2030, we found a very good opportunity for us to improve and to elaborate and to make our cities more efficient. When we align also our Smart City vision with the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom. The vision for the Kingdom actually is to stay away from non-oil industries. That’s why we started also developing our city. The uniqueness of Royal Commission city is actually that it has the industrial part, and also it has the residential part. So, our vision of the Smart City is that we have to serve both. This is our uniqueness. This is where we are tackling the cities.

This is some fact numbers about Yanbu right now. It is the third largest port and refining hub in the Red Sea. Also it’s the largest shipping oil hub in the Red Sea. Also there is a foreign direct investment growing rate up to 21 percent.

Right now, also, two years back, we got a royal decree that we have to include Jazan City for primary and downstream industries. This city is under development now. It’s a green field city. We are taking care of it right now, and we are doing the master plan for it from different perspectives — from the economy and also from the residential and industrial parts.

What we have done in Yanbu, actually we started in three phases — as an infrastructure and application focus, and also by collecting big data and cloud, and an IOC platform. The beauty of our Royal Commission cities is that we have a very solid infrastructure, since we built it in 1975. In Yanbu itself, we have laid, until now, more than 3,000 linear kilometers of fiber. We have more than 25,000 households already connected with fiber. We have more than 5,000 activated accounts right now.

From the focus, from the city,which applications? We have several thanks to Huawei and their support with us. We have diversified services, smart services implemented in the city, and we’re going to see it in a bit. And also right now, there is an implementation of the IOC, Intelligence Operation Center. It is the city brain for our city, where we can manage and look after all the operations of the city. This is the diversified services that have been implemented.

Thank you to Huawei team and their expertise, we built a road map for Yanbu. Similarly, right now we are doing it in Jazan. We have smart parking, we have smart waste management, we have smart lighting, we have smart pole. The smart pole actually is really a brilliant solution that we had. We have a very wide waterfront, it’s ten square kilometers. We didn’t have a CCTV. We didn’t have a Wi-Fi over there. So, we started to implement it. We pulled the fiber. Then after that, we integrated all the services in one pole. So, these services have actually helped general utility department for environmental control, for smart lighting, for CCTV, security, and also for advertisement, digital signage, and a public addressing system, where we are now doing all these announcements.

And all these solutions are already implemented. And in the near future, within two or three years, you’re going to see it also in Jazan primary and downstream industries. This is right now the city brain, our executive and higher management, they’re utilizing the Intelligence Operation Center to make a first decision to look after the cities. And right now, we started implementing this solution in Yanbu. And we are going soon, with the support of Huawei, we are going to do it Jazan. Very soon.

Why we are moving toward digital transformation right now? Most of the cities, you know, there are silos of applications. We have ERB, we have GIS, we have health information system, we have education system. All these kinds of applications, we need a platform, we need to integrate all these systems under one brain. So, this is right now, it’s under development. We have the support from Oracle, we have support from Huawei, working in digital transformation projects. So, we are hoping that to transfer all these applications under one umbrella, one platform, for fast and precise decision-making for our higher management.

Right now in Jazan, because it’s a new city that has been added to us, we are working to transform Jazan city for primary and downstream industries — as a smart port first, because we have an Aramco refinery over there, and we have a lot of industries that are going to utilize the port.

So, one of the solutions that has been proposed by our colleagues at Huawei, our strategic partner, is that we are going to transfer the sea port over there in Jazan as a smart port. We’re not willing to rely on human factor on this, like when they have already implemented in Shanghai. Only nine people there are running the seaport.

So, this is our focus right now. We are trying to transform Jazan City port as a smart port. This is some of the application that it will be — going from the shipping until the offloading the cargo, because Jazan it has also oil and non-oil chemicals, petro-chemicals, and cargo over there.

This is our success story and this is like when I told you, I am glad to be here again.

We started our Smart City since 2013. And we signed a partnership with Bayanat, a subsidiary of Mobily, for providing connectivity. This is happening all in Yanbu.

Then in 2016, when all Vision 2030 came, we got a lot of support from the government, and we signed an MOU with Huawei for building a roadmap for the Smart City.

In 2017, also, we signed another MOU and contracted with Huawei for building an Innovation Center and Huawei Academy, where we have right now more than 120 graduates from our Huawei Academy from all kind of courses: from the security, from cloud, from IoT, all these courses have been implemented and also for our team.

We have been honored to be a strategic partnership for Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Areas, as a strategic partnership for their conference in Saudi Arabia about the smart cities. And also, in 2017, we launched our Huawei Academy, where we did all these support for our youth.

In 2017, again, it was a very busy year for us. We got an award from Huawei for the Best Smart City Global Award as a recognition for our Smart City effort.

In 2017, November last year, on the same stage, it was a different set up, we won the award over here in Smart City Expo, the recognition for us as a Data Technology Award. And we were lucky to have that award. This year I was a speaker. Last year, it was the awarding ceremony. Hopefully, we’ll do it, inshallah, next year.

Also in May 2018, we won the award from IBC Media, that it will be like a business smart city in the green field. And we are going with the flow with the government. And our plan to go with the government direction for a digital transformation until 2020, also the transformation for the 2030 Vision.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Thanks for listening to this episode of New Horizons. Please be sure to click on the link below to read a full transcript of this keynote speech. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and be sure to share with your friends on social media. For more information on Huawei’s products and solutions, please visit Be sure to tune in again soon for more great guest interviews and stories. And as always, thanks for listening.


Ayman Al Harbi is the Director of Information Technology and Project Director at the SmartCity Project Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. He works on defining features and timelines for the Smart City Solutions along with building and leading several teams. Al Harbi received his bachelor degree in Computer Science from King Abdul-Aziz University in 2000. He later obtained his Master of Business Administration from Brock University in 2012. He also holds several certificates including Associate Value Specialist by Save International and Project Leader by Haward Technology Middle East.