In April 2018, Saudi Arabia and France signed an intergovernmental agreement on the sustainable development of the AlUla region and its transformation into a world-class cultural and tourist destination.
Born from this agreement, the French Agency for the Development of AlUla (AFALULA) aims to mobilize all French expertise (experts, operators, companies) and to support, within a co-construction framework, its Saudi partner, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).
The Agency brings together some of the world’s best experts in all the key areas of the project: museography, archaeology, architecture and urban planning, agriculture and botany, tourism, education, infrastructure, horses, security, water and environmental management.
The joint desire of Saudi Arabia and France is to implement, through the AlUla project, a new model of economic and touristic development focused on the preservation of the environment, respectful of history, territories and inclusive of the local population. This component of sustainable development is at the heart of the bilateral agreement signed between the two nations.
During the visit, on December 4, 2021, of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), two memorandums of understanding were signed with leading French companies Dassault Systèmes and the RATP group, respectively, on the development of a digital twin and local mobility.
The signing of these two memorandums of understanding demonstrates the joint desire of Saudi Arabia and France to offer AlUla smart and innovative solutions for the benefit of the region, its inhabitants and the visitors of today and tomorrow. It is also a reminder of the excellence of our French companies in the field of advanced technologies designed to facilitate the sustainable management of territories, to create responsible environments and unique living spaces for all.
Gérard Mestrallet, Executive Chairman of AFALULA
The memorandum of understanding signed with Dassault Systèmes aims to provide AlUla with a collaborative digital twin of the territory
The French champion software publisher specialized in the design and operation of virtual worlds is committed to AlUla and offers to the Royal Commission offers its 3DEXPERIENCE platform and its latest technological innovations for smart management of land transformation. A unique destination in the world, AlUla thus displays its ambition to have a digital twin with multiple uses, a true virtual replica of the territory, making it possible to precisely follow its evolution, to imagine more sustainable solutions, to better anticipate and manage risks in the service of quality of life.
The long-term commitment of Dassault Systèmes, and the technological partners that the group will mobilize, is to support the Royal Commission in setting up a cross-cutting digital twin program, which shows the territory as it works, in 3D, in an augmented way and covers its entire life cycle. By developing a virtual twin of the real world on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Dassault Systèmes will offer the Royal Commission a collaborative virtual environment that will contextualize all the available data and enable better management of the various strategic stages of the transformation: design, development, implementation and ongoing management of an urban system (renovation and infrastructure planning, construction of buildings, management of service networks, etc.).
The partnership also includes a commitment to consolidate data from various sources and to constitute a single, reliable and sustainable source for the RCU, the local population and all the actors in the territory.
The Royal Commission for AlUla and Dassault Systèmes will focus in particular on putting technological innovation at the service of AlUla’s economic, social and environmental development. An innovative incubation program is also planned to involve the population of AlUla in the digital transformation of the territory.
The memorandum of understanding signed with the RATP group aims to develop local mobility
As a recognized player in urban public transport in Saudi Arabia via its subsidiary RATP Dev and the third largest operator in the world, the RATP group is committed to the Royal Commission for AlUla to achieve its ambition in terms of local mobility.
The RATP group will provide its partner with all its expertise, its ability to innovate as well as its experience as a designer and operator of public transport recognized on an international level. The leading French group in its field will thus contribute to the realization of the ambitions of the Royal Commission set out in the Masterplan “Journey through time” validated by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
In a spirit of co-construction, the two partners will work to make AlUla a destination and a pleasant place to live where travel will be conducted in a fluid, safe and environmentally friendly way.
As part of this partnership, the RATP group will implement its know-how, its spirit of innovation in design and its operation of safe and connected mobility solutions at the service of a sustainable and smart city. These will include its range of electric and hybrid vehicles, autonomous vehicles and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions
Present on the chain of new transportation (autonomous shuttle, self-service electric scooter, carpooling, car sharing, smart and connected car parks), the partners will focus on developing, operating and maintaining innovative public transport systems to meet the mobility needs of populations: residents, schoolchildren and students as well as tourists, placing innovation on a technological but also social level.
As such, the RATP group is committed through this partnership to participate in the dynamics of local employment by offering training and hiring opportunities for women and men who live in AlUla. The group also undertakes to operate maintenance activities in the territory and to locate the related facilities in AlUla.
This signing sequence follows two previous moments in the history of partnerships between the Royal Commission and French companies. During the last Forum Investment Initiative (FII) in October in Riyadh, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the French group Thales concerning a long-term technological and strategic partnership aiming at making AlUla a smart and sustainable territory. At the same time, a contract was signed with the consortium composed of the three major French engineering groups Egis-Assystem-Setec for the management of the execution and operation of all the infrastructures of AlUla County.