The targeted increase in the number of guests of Al-Rahman (The Merciful) comes within the blessed vision of Saudi Vision 2030. It will provide the opportunity for the largest number of Muslims to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah, including the achievement of the goals of easiness and facilitation for the guests of Allah and raising the quality of the provided services. Here lies the importance of activating the role of the smart cities system for Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, and the holy places in particular, and for all the cities of Hajj, Umrah, and the visit in general.
Once smart cities are mentioned, then what generally comes to mind is modern technologies and their general usages, without going into the details of the applications of these technologies, as well as the criteria and determinants of its activation according to a harmonized integrated system. Focus on the technical tool and its activation is considered the most current practice of smart cities, without tackling the notion of development in the field of services and operations associated with urban life and civil society. This comes within the latest and the best related practices that are planned in an integrated and organized manner. The smart cities system is defined as an advanced urban region that creates sustainable economic development and a high-quality lifestyle in terms of excellence in key areas.
The smart cities system of Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, and the holy places represents a serious urban tendency that deepens primarily on paying attention to the privacy of place, time, activities, and acts conducted by the visitors of the holy places. The system is mainly based on the optimal activation of modern information and communication technologies; for example, the interactive databases, data collection using the Internet of Things (IoT) and others, storage of data as Big Data, analyzing and studying it using artificial intelligence, extracting the data from it, and decision making. The system also depends on eight main axes. The human axis is the main pillar of the system, in addition to what is associated with him of education, health and services he needs. This is in addition to the environment system, which is concerned with the preservation of the holy places as Allah (Exalted be He) created them, the provision of green cover, the protection of nature, and the recycling and appropriate disposal of waste. The economy axis is concerned with economic affairs and the optimal activation of investment opportunities. The smart cities system also includes the axis of "raising the standards of life quality" through the services and applications via linking them with specialized international standards of the measurement and evaluation of the smart cities. Also included is the urbanization axis and the concept of smart buildings in the holy lands and the smart transportation axis of the guests of Allah. The governance axis represents the most important axis as it targets the activation of the decisions and works necessary in the field of serving the guests of Allah, for the implementation of the procedures and works in accordance with the system. Finally, the sustainability axis targets the optimal exploitation of the resources available in these cities, such as the solar and dynamic energy (temporal and spatial) that the two holy cities posses.
The main element of all this is the availability and usage of information and data in the optimal manner and in the right place at the right time, as well as processing it in order for all the bodies concerned to benefit from it in the field of the service of the guests of Al-Rahman, in an appropriate manner that achieves the local and international standards of the smart cities. To achieve this goal, all the bodies concerned need to adopt a special integrated model for the smart cities system, which depends on specific standards that amount to the international ratings. This includes the integrated strategic planning of the system depending on the examination of the current situation, then adopting a scenario for fulfillment of the future goal.
It is worth mentioning that the application of the smart cities concept has already started, but in a simple, sporadic manner that seems without a definite and clear model. This weakens this application and makes it limited in feasibility and effect. In reality, the system needs a corporate body for research, development, and creativity specialized for smart cities and advanced technologies in a manner that conforms with the nature of the holy lands and the guests of Al-Rahman.