A new megacity is coming to the Kingdom that won’t be anything like the rest of Saudi
13 November 2017| Last updated on 13 November 2017
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has announced a brand new megacity that they are planning to build from the ground up on the coast of the Red Sea and it won’t be like anything Saudi has seen before!
The new megacity will be 26,500 square kilometres and focus on nine specialised investment sectors including energy and water, mobility, biotechnology, food, technological and digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment. Prince Mohammed said at the Future Investment Initiative (FII), “The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth and diversification by nurturing international innovation and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth in the Kingdom.”
It will be called NEOM meaning “New Future.” The word “neo” means new and “M” is the first letter of the Arabic word for future. This is a rather appropriate name. According to the Crown Prince, feature a lifestyle that isn’t available anywhere else in the Kingdom.
During the presentation they played a promotion video showing women without wearing the mandatory hijab and even running in a park in sports clothes. This might mean that most of Saudi’s strict guardian and dress laws might not apply to women in the new city.
NEOM will also be “independent” of Saudi’s existing governmental framework with its own tax and labour laws and an autonomous judicial system. It will also be powered solely with wind power and solar energy.
Along with the renewable energy, the development also envisions implement a “new concept for the workforce.” They want to make repetitive and arduous tasks set to be fully automated. In a statement Prince Mohammad said, “Robots may exceed the population, likely making NEOM’s GDP per capita the highest in the world.”
The city is strategically located adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba and near maritime trade routes to help make it the first capitalist city in the world. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman told attendees: “NEOM is situated on one of the world’s most prominent economic arteries. Its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa.”
The Saudi Government’s idea with this is to build the King Salman Bridge – a huge bridge sprawling across the Red Sea, connecting the new city to Egypt, Jordan and the rest of Africa. This will create “the world’s first independent special zone spanning three countries.”
The futuristic city will receive $500million from the Kingdom’s government, support from the Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund and international investors. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is expecting more than half a trillion dollars to be invested in this project. The city will also be listed publicly and float on financial markets alongside oil giant Saudi Aramco.
The city will also appear modern and different to the existing cities in Saudi Arabia. According to Prince Mohammad, “NEOM will be constructed from the ground up, on greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years.”
The first phase of NEOM is expected to be complete by 2025.
Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and CEO of Alcoa and Arconic, has been appointed CEO and will be in charge of running new $500 billion mega city NEOM.
The project was announcement at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyahd in October. The FII is an event arranged by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) and aims to connect some of the most powerful investors, business leaders, thought leaders and public officials with the path breaking innovations that are changing the face of the future. The event attracted more than 3,500 people from 88 countries.
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Part of the idea of the conference was to draw investors into the country for NEOM and other projects in the Kingdom. Unfortunately private investors are cautious when it comes to investing in state projects because of the uncertain legal environment, among other reasons.
This is part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 to prepare Saudi Arabia for when oil reserves in the Kingdom dry up. Prince Mohammad has been shaking things up in Saudi and taking numerous more conservative residents out of their comfort zones with this initiative in order to create a sustainable income for the future. Some Vision 2030 projects include a luxury resort on the coast of the Red Sea, allowing women to drive, renovating existing tourist destinations and allowing a tourist visa for the country.