The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), which is spearheading Riyadh’s smart city strategy, plans to start prequalifying firms for the plan’s technology platform by early 2017.

A source familiar with the project told MEED that a five-step process that will culminate in the design of a request for prequalification (RFP) began in January. The process, which will involve identifying the strategy and vision, inventory of existing services, gap analysis, and overall strategy, is expected to take 12 months.

“We have begun discussions with key stakeholders in Riyadh,” the source tells MEED.

Riyadh’s Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar is understood to be the key advocate of the smart city transformation.

The ADA is working closely on the programme with Dubai-based consultancy NexGen, the same firm that played a key role in Dubai’s smart city initiative.

Despite the adoption of major cost-cutting measures across the GCC states due to lower oil revenues, it is understood key public and private stakeholders now agree that the new oil era should facilitate investments in information technology (IT) and innovation to achieve greater efficiencies.