(MENAFN - Arab News) Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal ordered the designing of a 'technology oasis' in Taif.
A consultancy company will undertake the study and planning of the oasis, Taif Mayor Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Mukhrej said.
"The oasis will be constructed in the area between the northern side of Taif University campus and Souk Okaz. The study will be submitted to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for endorsement after getting the approval of the Higher Committee," Al-Mukhrej said.
This first-ever technology oasis project in the Kingdom is also an initial step toward building a model smart city in Taif. It will create plenty of jobs that would minimize unemployment among Saudi graduates, as it will have a number of research centers and technology incubators, Al-Mukhrej said.
The preliminary steps for the materialization of the project included signing of a memorandum of understanding between Prince Khaled and the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology.
The oasis will serve as a nucleus for the construction of a smart city in Taif. It will also signify the implementation of the Kingdom's strategic vision to depend less on conventional nonrenewable energy and build a knowledge-based city depending on local resources, he said.
The envisaged city will serve as a foundation for an economically and environmentally sustainable society depending on biotechnology, solar energy, agriculture, industry, fragrance manufacturing, education, training and tourism, Al-Madinah daily reported yesterday.
Basic investments will be made in education to international standards, to promote research activities with strong links to universities such as King Abdullah University for Science and Technology in Thuwal, Taif University, Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah and King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. There will be collaboration with internationally well-known educational institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, he said.
The prince envisaged transferring Taif city to a regional travel, tourism and business hub with a new international airport and high-speed rail linking with Makkah, Jeddah, Riyadh, and other Gulf cities, Al-Mukhrej said.
There would also be a metro system to connect the new city, the university, Taif city center and tourist spots in Al-Hada. A dry dock would be built to reduce pressure on the Jeddah Islamic Port, the mayor said.
Hotels, exhibition centers and conference halls of global standards would be built to promote tourist and business interests in the city. It would set the standards for future environmentally friendly cities in the Middle East. The smart city in Taif would also serve as a second gateway to the holy city of Makkah, he added.
The new city would have sites allocated for residential buildings, business centers, schools, community centers and clinics in districts with integrated utilities, he said.
The city would also have designated areas for picnics and green surfaces, apart from mosques in Islamic architecture, he said.