Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia has been named as the third smartest capital among the G20 states by IMD (International Institute for Management Development) in 2021. The city has achieved many milestones in the past and this latest development is another brilliant achievement that has put Riyadh in the spotlight. The achievement was made possible thanks to the rigorous efforts made by the Saudi government, especially when it comes to digital transformation. Riyadh much like Jeddah and Dammam is a digitally advanced city in the Middle East that is improving the lives of its civilians with each passing day. With the rise of digital transformation, Riyadh has gradually but steadily achieved what many Arab and Non-Arab cities aspire to achieve. Strategic investments and futuristic development have allowed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to now emerge as a digital, futuristic and entertainment hotspot within the GCC region, which includes UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to name a few countries. Even Oman and Qatar are part of that list. In the near past, this achievement was nothing more than a hopeful assumption but now, it’s a fully-functional lived reality. This inclination towards smart solutions has enabled Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to level up its global economic position and move towards a future that is technologically profitable and sustainable.

What truly makes this announcement a one-of-its-kind is the fact that Riyadh outperformed Paris, Hong Kong, Madrid, and Los Angeles in this latest IMD index ranking. The immersion of smart solutions in different walks of life has made the lives of Saudi nationals and resident’s straight forwardly simple and easy. KSA has achieved this milestone by implementing a technology-first approach. The Kingdom has invested in public sectors and systems that promote the spread of digital transformation. This has resulted in a boom within the digital marketing and transformation industry. Multiple digital marketing and transformation agencies are now opening up in Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah to address the increasing and varied needs of the residents. This development has essentially motivated digital marketing and transformation companies to rise above the challenges and cement their presence in a more sustainable manner.

On this auspicious occasion, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA), the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and the Quality of Life Program extended their utmost gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy prime minister and minister of defense for their unbounded support for the entire digital ecosystem.

With all that said, how did Riyadh become a smart city worthy of international acclaim? Moving forward, let’s understand the different socio-economic, political, and technological aspects that gave the Arab world such promising prospects. To understand the progress and advancements that have established Riyadh as a smart city, we must first understand how the IMD index ranks smart cities.

What factors are taken into consideration for the IMD index?
Certain factors impact the IMD index ranking directly, while certain aspects have an indirect impact. However, for the most part, the IMD index ranks city based on the following criteria:

The IMD index prioritizes how civilians perceive the scope and impact of efforts to make their cities smart, the balance between economic and technical aspects. Additionally, it takes into account human elements and the extent to which they have contributed to bridging the gap between the population’s aspirations and needs, as well as political trends in how smart cities are built.

Smart cities alleviate many essential sectors such as the transportation sector, through trip-planning software and public transport reservations. Innovative economies are built upon advanced software that contributes to upgrading sections such as logistics, delivery, and joint support services, building immersive platforms with the public to understand their aims and aspirations, and creating and enabling essential services. IMD is one of the most prestigious business administration institutes globally that measures the impact of national strategies in enhancing levels of well-being, achieving progress, and improving the quality of life for citizens.

How did KSA get here?
Achieving this milestone has been a turning point for the Kingdom but it did come with its fair share of challenges. The biggest and most difficult challenge that the Saudi government had to overcome was to change people’s perception – to motivate people to embark on a digitally transformative journey not just nationally but internationally. This was made possible by adopting an enabling and supportive digital structure, in line with the pioneering role that Riyadh plays in adopting and disseminating the uses of digital technology to promote economic and social development, developing health care, improving education, and raising societal well-being level for peoples in general.

One crucial fact that must not be ignored here is that Riyadh was the first digital Arab capital for the year 2020. This title was later taken up by Egypt in 2021 and is currently held by Muscat, the capital of Oman. The aim of this Arab digital capital initiative is simple; it wants to annually highlight the Arab countries that are changing the digital hemisphere not only for its residents and neighboring countries but also for the world. Furthermore, this annual selection aims to host successful digital initiatives and models within the Middle East.

What does the future hold for Saudi residents?
The future is going to be highly rewarding to those Saudi residents that adjust and adapt to the digital changes. Businesses in UAE or Oman or Kuwait or Qatar or Bahrain or anywhere else within the GCC region must formulate a digital transformation and marketing strategy to stay profitable in the days to come. Therefore, any business aiming to capture the Middle Eastern market must opt for a digital marketing company such as Bytes Future.

As we mentioned earlier that Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah already have a lot of digital marketing agencies that can help businesses to reach their marketing goals. However, not every digital marketing and advertising company operates the same way and many offer sub-par services. To embark on a transformative journey, get in touch with Bytes Future.

Bytes Future is a digital marketing agency that gives your business the wings it needs to reach new heights. With affordable and value-adding full-scale digital marketing and advertising services, Bytes Future is a digital marketing company that helps you get the most out of your investments.

Stop wasting time and get in touch with Bytes Future today to rule the world of digital and online marketing. With a digital marketing agency like Bytes Future, Owning a smart business in a smart city has never been easier!