Jeddah plans to grow from 3.4 million to more than six million people over the next six years, said Abdulgader Amir, vice-mayor of strategic planning and chief planner at Jeddah Municipality, speaking at MEED’s Smart Cities conference on 9 September.

Amir added that the built-up area of Saudi Arabia’s second city covers only about 1 per cent of the city’s whole area. Elsewhere, city centres tend to take up 7 per cent of urban areas.

As well as introducing smart cities initiatives, this will allow the city to place itself as the world capital of Islamic culture. Amir said the city could attract up to 100 million religious tourists a year.

The municipality plans to introduce smart initiatives such as traffic monitoring and intelligent infrastructure to encourage foreign investment, as it looks to expand the city centre area from about 1.5 square kilometres to 80 square km.

Key to this will be transport integration with the high-speed Haramain railway. The site of the expansion, where the old airport stood, is already well connected and close to hubs within the city, such as the King Abdulaziz university, one of the region’s biggest ports and a new waterfront development.