Cityquest – KAEC Forum: Global city leaders, CEOs, architects, thinkers and planners to gather in Saudi Arabia for second global forum on new cities – December 8 – 10, 2014

  • Second edition of leading high level exchange on the world’s most important new cities – organized by the NewCities Foundation and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Saudi Arabia
  • Impact KAEC Fellowship launched: three Harvard Graduate School of Design graduates placed in KAEC business units for 5 months, offering unique on-the-ground experience of planning and building a major new city

King Abdullah Economic City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – November 18, 2014. The NewCities Foundation and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) today unveiled the speaker program of the second edition of Cityquest – KAEC Forum, the world’s only high level exchange focusing on new urban mega projects.

Cityquest – KAEC Forum will take place in KAEC on December 8 – 10, 2014 in KAEC, one of the world’s most ambitious, large-scale new city developments, located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. This is the second edition of this pioneering event, which took place for the first time in November 2013, also in KAEC.

NewCities estimates that, taken globally, the investment in new cities exceeds USD$500 billion, amounting to one of the largest investment programs in history. Over 150 new city projects are being developed worldwide. In total, these cities expect to attract over 50 million residents.

A joint initiative of NewCities and KAEC, Cityquest is designed to spark a vital, cross-sector conversation and foster a lasting global network of leaders and builders of the most important global new city projects. A total of 150 international participants from across the private, public, academic and non-profit sectors are expected to attend this cutting edge, action-oriented Forum.

Confirmed speakers for Cityquest – KAEC Forum 2014 include:

H.E. Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority & Chairman, Economic Cities Authority
H.E. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar
Rem Koolhaas, Architect and Founding Partner, OMA
Fahd Al Rasheed, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, King Abdullah Economic City
John Rossant, Founder and Chairman, NewCities Foundation
Benjamin Barber, Political Theorist and Author, ‘If Mayors Ruled the World’
Ed Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, University of Harvard
Daan Roosegaarde, Artist and innovator, Studio Roosegaarde
Paul Romer, Professor of Economics and Director of the Urbanization Project at New York University’s Stern School of Business
Daniel Libeskind, Founder and Partner, Studio Daniel Libeskind
C.P. Gurnani, CEO, Tech Mahindra
Lutz Bertling, President & Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Transportation
Kent Larson, Director, Changing Places, MIT Media Laboratory and MIT Living Labs
Charles Montgomery, Author, ‘Happy City’
Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President for Industry Solutions & Chief Globalisation Officer, Cisco
Reuben Abraham, Founding Executive Director, Centre for Emerging Markets Solutions, Indian School of Business
Andy Serwer, Former Managing Editor, Fortune
Stéphane Distinguin, Founder and CEO, FABERNOVEL
Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Director, Khazanah Nasional
Joseph Danko, Senior Vice President and Operations Director – Urban Programs, CH2M HILL
Mike Hughes, Executive Vice President, Strategic Customers & Segments, Schneider Electric

New cities represented at this year’s Cityquest – KAEC Forum include:
Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), India
Mohammed VI Green City, Morocco
Tianjin Eco City, China
Kabul New City, Afghanistan
Yachay Knowledge City, Ecuador
King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Saudi Arabia
Iskandar, Malaysia
Jazan Economic City, Saudi Arabia
Magazan, Morocco
Rawabi, Palestine
HafenCity Hamburg, Germany
Lavasa, India
Clark Green City, Philippines
Colombo Port City, Sri Lanka

The theme of this year’s Cityquest – KAEC Forum is Connectivity as a Key Driver of Competitiveness in New Cities. Through the publication of a post-event report, thought leadership blogs and other original published content, Cityquest additionally provides insights into the field of new cities to a broader, global audience.

The full Cityquest – KAEC Forum speaker program can be accessed at

Impact – KAEC Fellowship launched

The NewCities Foundation today also announced the names of the three international graduates selected for the prestigious Impact KAEC Fellowship, another part of the Cityquest initiative. The Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for top international graduates to gain on-the-ground work experience in building the city of KAEC. This year, all three fellows were selected form Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The 2014-15 Impact KAEC Fellows:

  • Edward Meng, Urban Planner and Sustainable Transport Specialist, Harvard University Graduate School of Design. A US citizen, Edward Meng has a Master’s in Urban Planning from Harvard. He previously held actuarial and financial management positions with Deloitte, later specializing in sustainable transport consulting.
  • Tiffany Obser, Architect and Urban Design, Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Tiffany Obser recently completed her Master of Architecture degree at Harvard. Her professional interests lie in research and architecture at the urban scale. She has contributed to urban design projects in Colombia, the USA, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Saudi Arabia, where she visited KAEC in 2012. Tiffany is a dual US/German citizen.
  • Heidi Cho, recent graduate of the Harvard GSD with concurrent degree in Urban Design and Urban Planning. Her interests lie in international development and planning, and she has worked for urban planning consultant companies working on master planning for cities in China and Mexico and participated in the Incheon Airport Competition. Her research interests are centered around urban and environmental issues in fast-developing regions. She hopes to continue her exploration of topics relating to sustainable infrastructure, specifically as it relates to waste management. She is originally from South Korea.

The three Impact KAEC fellows will arrive in KAEC in November 2014 and will spend a total of five months living and working in the city. Throughout the Fellowship, they will work with KAEC business units to implement different urban initiatives. They will also design and implement a group initiative that contributes to KAEC’s urban development.

The Fellows will each give a presentation on their projects, and their first impressions of living in KAEC, at Cityquest – KAEC Forum in December 2014. At the end of their placement, the Fellows will produce a presentation to showcase the outcomes of their work at KAEC.

Blog posts related to the Impact KAEC Fellowship can be accessed at:

Fahd Al-Rasheed, Managing Director and CEO of King Abdullah Economic City, said: “This is the second year running that we have the honor of hosting Cityquest at King Abdullah Economic City and we are immensely proud that our international peers one again accord KAEC the status of one of the most advanced new cites of the modern world. We look forward to meeting again our friends from the previous year and sharing with them the vast wealth of experience and expertise we have gained in successfully developing KAEC into a vibrant coastal community of beautiful residential neighborhoods and a dynamic new hub of commercial and industrial activity that is playing a key role in the transformation and diversification of Saudi Arabia’s social and economic development.”

John Rossant, Founder and Chairman of the NewCities Foundation, said: “Cityquest is the only leadership exchange of its kind that addresses the exciting, challenging domain of brand new cities. What will these new cities look like in 50 years’ time? Who will live in them? What will make each one stand out? Who will finance them and why? Are new cities laboratories for urban innovation? These are all vital questions that we will address at Cityquest – KAEC Forum, and which our three Fellows will explore during their stay in KAEC – a new, standout opportunity for global graduates to gain real-world experience working in one of the largest urban mega projects.”


International Press contact:
Thomas Ledwell
Director of Communications
+1 514 987 0029

Local press contact:
Sameer Al-Ghamdi
Head of Corporate Communications
King Abdullah Economic City

About Cityquest

Cityquest – KAEC Forum, jointly organized by the NewCities Foundation and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), is the first ever global leadership exchange among key visionaries, partners and builders of the world’s largest and most innovative new city projects. The Forum’s chief objective is to generate cohesive strategies for making these cities of the future a sustainable success. This year’s event takes place in KAEC from December 8 – 10, 2014. The first edition of Cityquest took place in November 2013.

Access the report from the 2013 event:
Follow on @NewCities, @KAEC_Saudi and #cityquest

About the NewCities Foundation

NewCities is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to making cities more inclusive, connected, healthy and vibrant. Focusing on people, places and policies, we bring together a global network of public and private sector leaders and Urban Tech innovators to foster results-oriented collaboration. We also produce actionable research that can be implemented by decision-makers across sectors.
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About King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC)

King Abdullah Economic City is one of the largest and most important private sector initiatives in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, with a total area of 181 million sqm along the coast of the Red Sea. Through its Industrial Valley, KAEC has succeeded in attracting more than 80 national and international industrial companies including MARS, Sanofi, Pfizer, and TOTAL. KAEC is ideally situated to connect the East and West, with new roads and rail networks, KAEC is just an hour from Jeddah, Makkah and Medina; and with its King Abdullah Port, which effectively started operations in January 2014, KAEC can handle the world’s largest ships and reach 20 million TEUs upon port completion. KAEC offers a wide range of housing solutions that are suitably priced for different income levels. The KAEC residential districts are supported by a high quality infrastructure and a complete range of services and facilities such as The World Academy School, which is already open with a future total capacity of 2,250 students, and a healthcare center for primary care and emergency operated by Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital Company. In addition, retail stores have been fully leased and restaurants, cafes, sales outlets and pharmacies are already open.