Annual Arab Future Cities Summit triggers talks on integrated smart city solutions

Eng. Abdulla Rafia, assistant director general -
Engineering & Planning Sector, head of the sustainability
committee, Dubai Municipality and Majed Al Suwaidi,
managing director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai
Outsourc City inaugurate the 2nd Annual Arab Future
Cities Summit 2015

Various solutions and initiatives pivotal for smart city development were the key talking points at the recently concluded 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015. Held under the patronage of Dubai Municipality and organised by global conference producers, Expotrade, the summit witnessed participation from over 350 attendees from across the GCC.

Eng. Abdulla Rafia, assistant director general – Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality and Guest of Honour, Mr. Majed Al Suwaidi, managing director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City inaugurated the summit. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by an opening speech by both these esteemed dignitaries. Premium sponsors Samsung and DarkMatter also took the stage to deliver a welcome address.

Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City, said, “Dubai is already an established international hub for business, ICT, media and so on, with dynamic industries and a vibrant economy, and smart initiatives will further enhance the Emirate’s position as a leader in the field of technology and also in the field of innovation. This conference provided an excellent platform to showcase just how far Dubai has come as a Smart City, and also for businesses and individuals to discuss areas of future collaboration and ways to work towards our leadership’s ambitious goal; to be the smartest city in the world.”

All the invited speakers during their sessions covered different facets in the smart cities domain that ranged from cloud computing to cyber security; from ICT innovation to robotics; from energy efficiency to hydrology. Mohammed Gharaibeh, head of Enterprise Business Group, Samsung Electronics Business presented on the company’s innovative end-to-end solutions that can be integrated not only in a citizen’s day-to-day life but also can be adopted by cities at large to enhance efficiency, increase productivity and security.

Dr. Mario Rossi, landscape architecture manager, The Office of H.H Crown Prince of Dubai during his session emphasised on the use smart technologies for a better and sustainable landscape in Dubai. He supported his presentation with an extremely interesting case study on the implementation of robots for maintenance activities with the display of three robots on stage, which piqued the curiosity of all the attendees present.

The impressive lineup of speakers included Manchester City Council’s Stephen Turner; William Ruh of GE Software; Huawei’s Safder Nazir; Micorosft’s Michael Mansour; Shafik Jiwani of Rolta; Hive technology’s Gert Botha; Rami Hajjar from Philips amongst many others. RTA’s Abdulla Al Madani delivered a session on the topic of smart and sustainable mobility that provided a holistic view on the initiatives adopted in driving a smart government. His inputs on RTA’s smart city strategy garnered a tremendous amount of interest and was followed by questions from many of the summit attendees.

Talking about the success of the summit, Brad Hariharan, regional director, Expotrade Middle East, mentioned, “In the second edition, our summit has covered a broad scope of topics and themes that are integral to smart city development in the Middle East. Experts from the government and industry leaders delivered keynote sessions with case studies and strategies of initiatives implemented that offered tremendous value to the summit attendees. We are thrilled with the feedback we have received from our sponsors and delegates. We look forward to continue our success at next year’s edition of the summit as well.”

Wim Elfrink, president, Digitalisation Solution Ventures moderated the first day’s panel discussion on cyber security, safe and secure connected cities. Joining him on the panel were Eric Eifert, senior vice president of Managed Security Services, DarkMatter; Furqan Ahmed Hashmi, IT Operations Leader, Emirates Investment Authority and Yousuf Mohammed Al Shaiba, director of Smart Services Development Department, Ajman Municipality & Planning Department.

Day two of the summit commenced with Paul Copping of The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s session on what a smart city constitutes. Steven Velegrinis of Perkins + Will outlined how hydraulic systems will be used in future cities as a positive transformative urban element, while Faisal Rashid of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy spoke on mapping the energy intensity for Dubai and management of energy conservation.

Dr. Zahra Al Rawahi, director of innovation, The Research Council – Sultanate of Oman during her session spoke of how ICT is the main enabler of smart cities, and shared examples of smart city solutions by some countries across the globe.

The second panel discussion of the summit was on the topic implementing sustainable strategies to increase energy efficiency in Dubai with a focus on solar energy. James Stewart, general manager, Alec Energy moderated the panel and was accompanied by fellow panelists Dr. Corrado Sommariva, managing director, ILF Consulting Engineers; Jamie Low, associate engineer, Buro Happold Engineering; Matar Suhail Salem Al Mehairi, vice president in Asset Management Department – Distribution Power Division, DEWA and Jane Boyle, technical director and head of Sustainability and Energy, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

With multiple networking sessions, attendees were presented with many opportunities to visit the exhibitor lounge and connect with over 20 companies such as Samsung, Dark Matter, GE Lighting, Philips, Microsoft, Huawei, Rolta, Fusionex, Hive Technology and Introsys who displayed their smart city solutions. The success of the summit prompted sponsors and delegates to comment positively at the close. Salwar Bayaty, assistant director, Dubai Properties Group, said, “The topics and presentations were related to the theme of the summit and were extremely informative. There was a good mix and variety of presenters.” Mark Hauenstein, president, Technical Designs said, “An excellent forum to share ideas and technologies that promote and encourage smart infrastructure.”

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