Mastercard report finds human connections and technological innovation are key for Cities of the Future

March 28, 2024 | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • The Mastercard Cities of the Future Report taps into the aspirations of urban inhabitants in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt
  • 85% of respondents in Saudi Arabia believe their cities are maturing or mature enough as future-ready urban spaces


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 28 March 2024 – Three in four people would be happier living in a smart and connected city, according to a new report by Mastercard, which features insights related to human aspirations and technological progress for cities of the future in the Middle East. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, which places a renewed focus on urban living to ensure that the cities of the future are secure, sustainable, and inclusive.

Mastercard Cities of the Future Report revealed that respondents in Saudi Arabia overwhelmingly agree that living in a smart city would make them happier (75%).

“Through ongoing infrastructure development, investment and collaboration, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is working towards Vision 2030 and having three Saudi cities recognized among the top-ranked 100 cities in the world. At Mastercard we are proud of our role as both strategic advisor and implementation collaborator to multiple stakeholders in our aim to help shape the cities of the future. We work closely with partners across the public and private sectors, and contribute our expertise in transformational technologies and digitization, so that cities can evolve sustainably and optimally,” said Adam Jones, Country General Manager, MENA Central, Mastercard.

Priority innovations for residents in Saudi Arabia are connected buildings and smart travel services

The majority (60%) of respondents in Saudi Arabia identified smart and connected buildings and homes as the highest priority innovation, along with smart travel services (60%) for a two-way tie. Technological advancements widely generate more optimism than worry. AI and machine learning (54%) are considered the most important technologies for future cities. In terms of concerns, residents cited the loss of traditional jobs, followed by the loss of traditional cultural connections.

Synergies between smart solutions and sustainability

Smart solutions to transform to clean and renewable energy (56%) emerged at the top of the list of anticipated outcomes in Saudi Arabia, and across the region. In the Kingdom, 85% of respondents believe their cities are ‘maturing’ or ‘mature enough’.

Urban residents seek digital access to services and super-app convenience

Residents in Saudi Arabia appreciate digitization making their living environments, workplaces, and payment experiences, more efficient. Topping the list of aspects that would enhance daily living experience in a city, are digital access to services (55%) like utilities, licensing, banking and transportation, and a single digital platform (super-app) that integrates all services and information (55%). For example, visitors to King Abdullah Financial District can use a super-app, currently under development, to personalize the experience, including booking a car park in advance, navigating onsite, and accessing the KAFD loyalty program.

“The KAFD experience is centered around creating a human-centric environment that focuses on meeting the needs and enhancing the quality of life for its residents and visitors. It aims to provide a vibrant and inclusive community that fosters social interaction, cultural exchange, and economic growth – and technology plays a critical role in enabling related services,” said Ramez Alfayez, Chief Information Officer, KAFD DMC.

Partnership crucial for urban innovation

Through working with public and private sector partners, Mastercard helps develop solutions to advance sustainable future cities in various ways and develop digital transformation. For example, Mastercard collaborated with Saudi Payments, operator of the national payment infrastructure, under the supervision of SAMA, to launch Saudi Arabia’s instant payments system ‘sarie’, thereby facilitating faster payments and improvements to banking reconciliation.

Its collaboration with Fintech Saudi is expanding fintech innovation, while its work with Saudi-based SiFi will empower small businesses and facilitate entrepreneurial success. Along with the Saudi Esports Federation, Mastercard is expanding the gaming space with new technologies, while on the urban mobility front, Mastercard is involved in the Riyadh Metro project as provider of the selected gateway for all ecommerce transactions. Mastercard also partnered with KAFD DMC to advance inclusivity and technology education for girls.

For more data and insights, download the complete Mastercard Cities of the Future report Mastercard Cities of the Future Report 2024 | Saudi Arabia.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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