Sustainability 13, 2143.
Smart cities offer solutions to environmental, economic, and societal problems in urban agglomerations. We investigate the potential for mutual learning in smart city implementation by comparing German approaches (smaller, local projects) to projects implemented in the MENA region (bigger, national designs). We contrast the outside view on these projects with an inside perspective, surveying key decision-makers in five German and seven MENA smart cities. We assess motivation, technology options, and factors that drive or impede smart city implementation. We find strong similarities in the motives to engage in smart cities, offering common ground for mutual good practice exchange. Energy efficiency solutions and—to a lesser extent—renewable energies are of strong interest to policymakers in all countries. In contrast, the appraisal of mobility solutions strongly diverges, showing that technology deployment is far from being a simple “plug and play” solution. Considering these insights can facilitate the overall deployment of smart cities, not only in the surveyed countries but also in global manner.