How does this digital platform work?

Who are the teams using it?


The Thales Digital Platform provides the live monitoring of the County assets and acts as the "Smart County Control Platform". It will be accessible from the RCU Operations Center building, as well as from phones and tablets for remote users.


The platform is connected to all possible sensors in the field, including cameras, autonomous vehicles, drones, and satellites. It is interfaced with all the RCU systems, especially with the county Digital Twin system and the AlUla experience app. The platform will thus become the day-o-day tool for County operations. It will also be used by all RCU departments, including the airport operations, and will provide decision-aid reporting for the RCU management.

Why was Thales chosen? What are its specific skills?


RCU selected Thales through a comprehensive process, including third-party references, technology assessment by field experts and meetings with Thales executives and project teams. Thales is a corporation that delivers the most complex and ambitious projects on earth and in the space. For the benefit of RCU, it brings the right combination of a Saudi presence, through its local company active in the Kingdom for more than 50 years, and an international expertise, through teams located in centers of excellence in France and in all continents.

Is this partnership an opportunity to make AlUla a worldwide leader in smart cities?


This partnership is the best combination to leverage the world's most advanced technologies in a heritage territory with deep history and roots. This illustrates well the journey through time, bringing together the best of ancient times and modern times.


In recent years, Thales has contributed to the Smartest Projects in the World, as for the multi-modal mobility project in Dubai. In view of the achieved milestones and the enthusiasm for the next phases, Thales and RCU are convinced, more than ever, that AlUla will become the next worldwide reference in smart territories.

In which ways can AI and big data support AlUla’s development?


With such a large territory, RCU needs to leverage automation for the county development and the day-to-day county operations. Artificial Intelligence can bring huge benefits in that respect. For example, in the field of Computer Vision, AI will utilize the county cameras to keep track of wildlife development, by counting species, animals and plants.


Big data will also collect information about every visitor's journey and help better understand their specific needs in terms of hospitality, entertainment, and mobility. This will provide RCU all the insights to build the right capacity and enhance the touristic experience.

Is the local population part of this project?

What are the links between the French company, the RCU and the people of AlUla in this partnership?


Involving the AlUla inhabitants is a key success factor of the AlUla Smart County program. In May, Thales' design thinking experts ran a first set of workshops at AlUla Vibes involving county residents. The feedback was great, and many ideas were shared on how to improve the local community's life. This will materialize in new applications, new services for the education, comfort, and safety of the local population.


This is the genesis of a growing relationship between Thales and the local community. Thales has a strong local footprint in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Jubail. It is now committed to open an office in AlUla to actively participate in the County talents and competencies development.

How could Thales help AlUla in being safer?


Thales has a worldwide record of accomplishment in safety and security of critical infrastructures and large events. As an example, Thales has been ensuring the security of the holy mosques in Mecca and Madina in addition to Jamarat bridge for many years. It has designed, implemented, and operated the integrated systems to protect these sites and the multi-million flow of pilgrims. The systems can detect fires through imaging and machine learning.


Thales has piloted early fire detection systems at AlUla at the end of 2021. It has also started projects to implement invisible security in Ashar district and around Maraya.

What is “virtual fencing”?

In general, how can a digital solution such as Thales’ contribute to heritage preservation?


Virtual fencing is a way to protect and monitor a site, without physical fences or obstacles, which can alter the site itself and the visitor experience. The fencing is virtual as it is computer-controlled and based on video-surveillance and other field sensors.


Virtual Fencing is part of the Invisible security principle stated in AlUla Masterplans. It will protect Hegra's monuments, for example, and detect when an authorized person approaches a tumb's entrance that is not blocked by a physical barrier. An automatic procedure will then be launched to inform the person and prevent it from entering that zone.

How could Thales improve event management and guest experience?


Thales' role is to enhance the visitor journey via technology and automation. Our expertise was gained at cultural sites like the Musée du Louvre in Paris, which welcomes 10 million visitors per year, as well as airports, such as New York JFK, Bahrain or Oman airports and major sport events.


Planning an event is making sure the site is ready to accommodate the visitors. The guest experience is maximized when the waiting times are reduced, and his journey made seamless and easier. Thales' digital Identity solutions can ensure that the guest access is simplified and accelerated. For example, face matching takes less than 5 seconds at an airport checkpoint.

Are energy and resource management

included in Thales’ contribution?


The Thales Smart Digital Platform can track all utilities consumption through Internet of Things (IoT). For instance, energy meters are safely connected to the Platform and send all data about energy usage at any time of the day. The platform is then able to detect abnormal energy consumption levels and make the necessary adjustments.

The platform can also monitor the status of the energy installations and trigger preventive maintenance when required, to avoid any downtime.

How can AlUla become a

“smart territory”, what would it mean for the region?


AlUla is a unique territory, with outstanding strengths and challenges ahead of it. How to develop a new city growing from 40,000 to 150,000 inhabitants? How to create an international destination and welcome 2 million visitors? How to maintain a sustainable and dynamic agriculture? How to value its heritage and develop new high value activities in areas like cosmetics or science?


AlUla will become a "Smart County" by leveraging its great assets and developing a modern infrastructure to enable education, entrepreneurship, and innovation. RCU has developed a vision and masterplans to provide all the required smart services that can benefit AlUla citizens, tourists, and the local economy. RCU can count on Thales' commitment to provide all the support, technologies, and resources to make this vision a reality.

What is the scope of this partnership?


Thanks to the partnership agreement signed at FII Riyadh 2021, Thales is proud to be the strategic long-term technology partner for the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) to bring innovation capabilities associated with unique global expertise to support the realization of RCU's ambitions in AlUla.


First, Thales is RCU's trusted advisor in the most advanced technologies and innovations. It will then play a wider role as a visionary master contributor to design, build, operate and maintain. Thales is also committed to be an active contributor to the economic, social and environment development of the County.

Makrem Dridi, Vice President Global Security and Digital Solutions for Thales, has answered our questions to explain how.

In October 2022,

Thales signed a Memorandum of Understanding

with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU)

to support the implementation of a smart and sustainable territory.

The French group is thus to provide the RCU with the technological

expertise AlUla needs to be manageable.

In October 2021,

Thales signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) to support the implementation of a smart and sustainable territory. The French group is thus to provide the RCU with the technological expertise AlUla needs to be manageable.




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