Abu Dhabi and Shenzhen have signed a landmark partnership with the signing of a Twin City agreement. Backed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) and Qin Weizhong, Mayor of Shenzhen, the agreement was announced during the inaugural Abu Dhabi x Shenzhen Innovation Forum (ADSZIF) held in Shenzhen, China from 25 – 26 January 2024.

The Twin City agreement commits both parties to share knowledge and collaborate on pioneering smart city projects across multiple areas including infrastructure, city planning, green mobility, transportation, advanced technology, autonomous solutions, sustainability, and urban development.

His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa said: "Abu Dhabi has its sights firmly set on being a global pioneer in sustainable and smart urban development. We are committed to leveraging innovation and technology to transform urban living and improve the lives, wellbeing and experience of all those connected to the UAE capital and across the emirate. Leveraging strategic partnerships is key to delivering any ambitious vision and as we approach the Chinese New Year, this is the perfect time to sign a Twin City agreement with one of the most advanced cities in the world, Shenzhen. The inaugural Abu Dhabi x Shenzhen Innovation Forum has been an overwhelming success and marks a new era for UAE-China relations. We are confident that the agreements signed during the forum will ensure our two world-class cities become even more attractive to citizens, visitors, businesses, and investors in the Year of the Dragon and beyond.”

Qin Weizhong said: “Shenzhen is delighted to sign the Twin City agreement with Abu Dhabi and looks forward to working directly with DMT to exchange ideas and collaborate on smart city strategy. This partnership does not only cement longstanding ties between China and the UAE but also paves the way to working on the type of innovation and advanced technology that will define global cities of the future. We congratulate DMT on the success of the Innovation Forum and commend Abu Dhabi for selecting Shenzhen as its partner on this exciting project to transform city living.”

A collaboration between Abu Dhabi and Shenzhen, ADSZIF hosted senior representatives from DMT, Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) and Chinese officials, as well as senior executives from over 15 organisations. The forum also saw DMT sign strategic agreements with Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning Centre Co. Ltd (SUTPC), Huawei, Templewater Hong Kong Limited, and Kowloon Motor Bus Company. DMT representatives also joined a series of Shenzhen site visits including the city’s Transport Operations Coordination Centre (TOCC), Intelligent Operation Centre (IOC), and Huawei’s research centre.

In the collaboration with SUTPC, DMT will establish an International Joint Laboratory to facilitate training programmes on smart city and mobility, focusing on developing smarter, safer, more efficient, and greener transport systems in Abu Dhabi. The partnership includes a joint development of an Intelligent Mobility Command and Control Centre (IMCCC) in Abu Dhabi that explores technologies to advance urban transportation decision-making process and governance to further enhance the emirate’s transportation sector.

Among the IMCCC’s features are advanced sensors, cameras and real-time data analysis, that will be used for comprehensive city-wide traffic monitoring, decision-making, event management, as well as an all-in-one digital service system for residents, businesses and government departments. It will incorporate purpose-built technology to efficiently manage Abu Dhabi’s land, sea, air and rail transportation network. DMT and SUTPC will also join forces on the operating model design for the IMCCC, develop use case proof-of-concepts, manage the implementation and migration to a new public transport intelligent transport system and establish an immersive system to enhance the Abu Dhabi’s transport modelling capabilities.  The agreement further serves as a foundation for DMT and Shenzhen Smart City Group, the latter being the parent company of SUTPC, to collaborate on developing a smart city platform in Abu Dhabi.

The agreement with Huawei outlined areas for mutual cooperation and knowledge sharing ranging from joint collaborations and consultations, to enhanced data centres and strengthened IT infrastructures, to exploring innovative mobility solutions. Huawei will also support Abu Dhabi’s continued efforts to develop a world-leading smart transportation system. Among the elements that will be incorporated in the system are vehicle charging infrastructures, autonomous driving and advanced traffic optimisation solutions, a holographic road network and traffic optimisation.

As part of the agreement with Templewater, DMT and the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) will explore sustainable public transportation solutions across Abu Dhabi in alignment with the UAE’s Net Carbon Zero 2050 strategy. Key initiatives within the agreement include the development of a green bus depot in Abu Dhabi, together with a hydrogen complex that will produce green hydrogen to power hydrogen buses and cars across Abu Dhabi by 2025. 

A Letter of Intent was signed with Kowloon Motor Bus Company to enhance the public transport sector in the emirate. This tactical partnership will spearhead Abu Dhabi's Public Transport Transformation Strategy to include the diversification of public transport modes, decarbonisation of the public transport system, digital management of public transport operations, and improvement in contracting methods to encourage more involvement from the private sector in Abu Dhabi’s public transport development. The collaboration aims to lead to the delivery of a seamless travel experience for public transport users in Abu Dhabi. 

The forum reflects the deepening relationship between the UAE and China across diverse sectors, including the areas of smart city development and related technologies. As part of these continuous efforts, His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa made his first visit to Shenzhen in 2023 in his capacity as the Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport to explore Shenzhen’s smart city infrastructure and technology, as well as to Beijing to sign a Letter of Intent with Yin Yong, Mayor of Beijing, to exchange best practices in municipal work and sustainable transportation solutions.