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An evaluation of stakeholders' participation process in developing smart sustainable cities in Saudi Arabia

Abood Khaled Alamoudi (School of Built Environment, UNSW, Sydney, Australia) (College of Architecture and Planning, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia)
Rotimi Boluwatife Abidoye (School of Built Environment, UNSW, Sydney, Australia)
Terence Y.M. Lam (School of Built Environment, UNSW, Sydney, Australia)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Article publication date: 12 December 2022




The smart sustainable cities (SSC) concept has a wide acknowledgement amongst governments and societies that deal with emerging technology and help in developing better urban communities. However, the fact that citizens' participation (CP) is not adherent to the current policies and governance often boosts their aspirations of decision-making to become smart cities. This paper aims to identify SSC variables and, more importantly, rank, categorise and discuss the factors towards implementing SSC by engaging, empowering and enabling citizens to participate in the urban development of SSC.


A comprehensive literature review identified 38 factors in the CP process. Those factors were used to design an online questionnaire administered to the respondents. A total of 164 valid responses were collected. A two-stage statistical analysis was adopted. First, the Relative Importance Index (RII) was used to rank and prioritise the importance of the factors that affect the current policies and agenda. Second, factor analysis was utilised to categorise and group those factors.


This study founds four significant factors that help in implanting SSC: “knowledge of smart sustainable cities”, “awareness of smart sustainable cities”, “willingness of the citizens to participate” and “opinion on the current agenda of the government's role”.

Research limitations/implications

This study has a few limitations which can be considered in future studies. First, the response rate of the participant is relatively low (163), so sampling a larger segment will support the broader perception of the citizens.

Practical implications

The outcome of this paper underlines the need for the successful implementation of smart cities by adopting CP in the process of impacting policies and governance. Particularly, it identifies factors that help cities and policymakers in engaging CP in developing new policies and revising existing policies for promoting SSC.


There is a need to investigate the most critical factors that influence CP for implementing SSC. These factors have not been adequately examined in extant literature.



The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest. This paper forms part of a larger research project which focuses on citizens' participation to support the implementation of smart sustainable cities from which other papers will be produced with a different objective/scope but share the same background and methodology. The Saudi Arabia government (through Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU)) is appreciated for sponsoring the PhD study.


Alamoudi, A.K., Abidoye, R.B. and Lam, T.Y.M. (2022), "An evaluation of stakeholders' participation process in developing smart sustainable cities in Saudi Arabia", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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