Qatar’s Urban Development Dream Depends On Data-Driven Tech Innovation

Arab Future Cities Expert Outlines Five-Pronged Attack For Sustainable Cities

DOHA, QatarQatar’s future development is dependent on its effective embrace of sustainable, technology-driven development strategies, according to one of the world’s leading urban matters and public security experts.

The claim was made ahead of next week’s Arab Future Cities Summit, which is being held in Doha under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Sean Patrick O’Brien, Vice President, Urban Matters & Public Security, SAP – the world’s largest business software company – said that urban governments could radically alter their development course for the better by adopting a “five-by-five” philosophy.

The approach entails building the future via an intricate, interlined combination of cloud, analytics, mobility and database technology.

“Backed by the right level of visionary leadership, which is already so evident in Qatar today, this quintet of solutions can drive good governance, empower users, engage communities, unlock innovative services and achieve unprecedented urban resilience,” said O’Brien, who is one of the keynote speakers at the Arab Future Cities Summit.

The notion of “Five by Five” – two-way radio parlance for signal strength and clarity – is likely to be met by receptive Qatari ears, with the country’s 2030 vision rapidly progressing, and the recent announcement of a new law regulating public-private partnerships to speed up key infrastructure projects.

More than $140 billion has been earmarked for megaprojects and smart city development in Qatar’s 2030 Vision plan across energy, transport, education, health and tourism sectors.

According to the UN, the number of people living in cities will increase to 6.3 billion by 2050, up from 3.6 billion in 2010.

By 2025, there will be 37 megacities with populations of more than 10 million. The Economist Intelligence Unit states that 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban centers, with the 120 top cities accounting for 29 per cent of all GDP. 80 per cent of the world’s total GDP stems from urban environments.

A new report from Pike Research believes that such explosive urbanisation is set to drive a new era of smart city initiatives defined by the integration of technology with a strategic approach to sustainability, well-being, and economic development. The research organisation forecasts that the smart city technology market will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to $20.2 billion in 2020.

“Cities are continually evolving, hugely complex entities,” added O’Brien.

“To develop in an appropriate and sustainable manner requires considerable data-led insight, not to mention the ability to react in real-time to problems ranging from mere inconveniences to life and death situations.”

“Rapid urbanization demands sustainable growth, smarter economics and, most importantly, people power. What we need is good governance through efficient strategies, resource optimization and smarter transport grids. We need user empowerment stemming from real-time, data-driven enlightenment and a new level of transparency that helps populations connect, collaborate and prosper. We also need streamlined processes, and the confidence to innovate that only comes with the most resilient risk prevention and reaction measures. That is what it takes to be a best run city, and that is what SAP’s Urban Matters program is all about.”

SAP’s Urban Matters program was formed last year with the goal of helping cities and urban settlements improve the lives of people and deliver better, more effective government.

The program builds on an over 30-year old track record of helping cities innovate and sustain themselves. Over 1,700 urban governments worldwide currently run on SAP.

About the Arab Future Cities Summit
Increasing urbanization, climate change, and decreasing natural resources mean that cities need to evolve, adapt and “future-proof” themselves to ensure that they are competitive and fit for purpose. Smart, sustainable, future cities are engines of growth, creating jobs and providing better places to live, work and grow. They are interconnected, use natural resources efficiently and optimize their potential to attract talent and international investment.

The second annual Arab Future Cities Summit will once again gather together city leaders, Government officials, academics, urban service providers and city development experts to share experiences, smart thinking and best practice for implementing the smart cities of tomorrow.

The Summit is an international platform for the transfer of knowledge, allowing leaders of municipalities to learn from the pioneers of smart city concepts and technologies. The event is unparalleled in the Middle East for its peer-to-peer learning experience and excellent networking opportunities, aiding leaders and key stakeholders of municipalities to develop a secure and robust infrastructure that is fit for purpose for all citizens and achieves a more sustainable future.

For more information, visit

About SAP

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 232,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit

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