Riyadh in the Limelight for Beating Big Names in Smart City Ranking

Riyadh in the Limelight for Beating Big Names in Smart City Ranking

It is now 2023 and we’re only 17 years shy of 2050 when 70% of the world’s population will reside in cities! Unfortunately, the World Bank Report indicated that urban areas account for 70% of global CO2 emissions. This calls for a concerted effort to decarbonize the cities and ensure limited emissions from the industrial and motorized systems. The focus on the smart city has been an integral part of the efforts to make cities sustainable and livable for the increasing population. In this article, we review how the Kingdom moved through the ranks to beat big names such as Paris and Berlin in the new smart city ranking.

The smart city definition is important in understanding the rankings. Smart cities refer to urban spaces where stakeholders in the public and private sectors leverage digital solutions to enhance services while reducing the environmental pollution.

Saudi’s Riyadh Ranking in Global Smart Cities

Big names used as examples of smart cities such as Paris, London, Madrid, and Oslo have dominated the smart city ranking for several years. For instance, in the year 2022 global ranking, London secured the first position while Paris and Berlin were ranked third and fifth respectively. These are not only the financial capitals of Europe but also have a long history of reducing carbon footprint. However, in the same year, Riyadh ranked 39th.  This was indicative of significant improvement from 2019 when the kingdom’s capital took the 55th position.  Nonetheless, it is nothing compared to the current ranking that put Riyadh in the 30th position.

Importance of Smart city Ranking

So, why is the current ranking significant?

  • They indicate how cities are progressing towards a good quality of life.
  • Smart cities’ ranking indicates the preparedness of urban planners and the government to improve living standards.
  • They are the bases for assessing the commitment of government and urban planners to address the social and environmental challenges in the cities.
  • The ranking also shows the level of expectations of quality life city residents is expecting to enjoy.

Based on these valuable reasons for ranking smart cities, Riyad demonstrated an exemplary performance to floor long-term giants such as Paris and Boston.

It is not only Riyadh that demonstrated stellar performance in the 2023 ranking but also other Kingdom cities such as Mekkah, Jeddah, and Madinah. These three cities are included in the list for the first time.  They secured positions 56th, 52nd, and 56th positions respectively.

Large metropolises such as Paris, Madrid, and Boston ranked low in the index. This doesn’t imply that they have lagged in terms of the metrics. Their size works against them in terms of rankings.


The continued efforts demonstrated by the National Smart City Platform and other agencies in the Kingdom have begun to pay off. This is because it has pushed three new cities in the rankings and moved Riyadh to stand among the leading metropolis in the global arena. What it means for the citizens of the Kingdom is a bright future with better quality of life.


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