Saudi Arabia aims to complete the first section of NEOM by 2025. NEOM is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province, planned to incorporate smart city technologies and function as a tourist destination.
The project has an estimated cost of $500 billion, making it one of the most expensive investments in recent years. The company building is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund. The aim is to develop the economic zone of the project totally powered by renewable energy sources.
When announcing the project, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz did not hold back. He declared a new reality for his kingdom, announcing the launch of the independent mega city, with separate regulation along the Red Sea coastline.
He said, “We want to live a normal life. A life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness,”
According to statistics, 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. And the Prince doesn’t want that population to spend the next 30 years of their lives dealing with destructive ideas.
The goal with the project is also to return to the live before 1979, a reference to the rise of political Islam following the assassination of King Faisal in 1975. Prince Mohammed said they will return to a country of moderate Islam open to all religions, traditions, and people around the globe.
Quick Facts about the Project
– One of its kind industrial zone spanning three countries, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt
– The area of the city will spread to 26,500 square km, or 10,230 square miles, making it 33 times the land area of New York City
– The city will be powered entirely by wind and solar energy
– Advertisements for NEOM show women working alongside men and running in crop tops in the open, a stark departure from the rules in Saudi Arabia concerning women
– The high-tech world of the city imagines repetitive tasks being outsourced to robots or fully automated
– It will function as an independent part of the Kingdom and its governmental framework, excluding sovereignty
The Core Focus Sector
Project NEOM will focus on nine specialized investment sectors and living conditions. They are future of human civilization, energy and water, mobility, biotech, food, technological and digital sciences, entertainment with livability as its foundation, media, and advanced manufacturing.
These sectors will serve as growth engines, stimulating economic growth and diversification. They will drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth.
NEOM – Future Commerce Capital
Investments and financing will play a large role in NEOM. The city and investments are set to be spearheaded by the Kingdom’s economy and supported by PIF.
Saudi Arabia wants to make NEOM one of the world’s future economic and scientific capitals. It will also serve as the future commerce capital of Saudi Arabia.
Objectives of NEOM
The Saudi Government has a couple of objectives on its mind that they want to achieve with NEOM. Here are some of them.
In terms of people, they want to build a global community with the brightest talent around the world, embracing innovation, creativity, and friendship to all nations.
They also want to provide the best in class business environment for investors and innovators. These inverts will build tomorrow’s economic models and promote collaboration for achieving sustainable economic growth.
NEOM also aims to re-define the art of good living through the most viable communities that promote sustainable future and healthy lifestyle. Think of it as Saudi’s way to help the planet.
The project will lead to betterment of an admirable future of energy and water with the capacity of energy storage.
They aim to improve the future of advanced manufacturing, leading to new technology in 3D printing and robotics. In terms of the field of media production, the project will lead to development of television and film industry. They also aim to improve the production of digital content in general.
And just think of this for a moment. NEOM will provide its residents with “digital air”. That is the term they use for the free highest-speed internet and free online continuous education at your fingerprints.
How do they plan to achieve these goals? By becoming among the top secure areas in the world. NEOM will adopt the future technologies in the fields of security and safety.
They also plan to make all services and processes 100% fully automated. The goal is to become the most efficient destination in the world.
Are there any challenges to the project?
When Saudi Prince announced the project, there was a lot of optimism in general. But there are also challenges that lie ahead.
The big challenge are women. They make up 50% of the population, and by many experts, this population is under-utilized. The project aims to educate women and all people accordingly, so that they can join the workforce and contribute to the economy.
Saudi Arabia has taken several steps to build investor confidence. For example, they passed a decree allowing women to drive. They also allowed easier visa entry rules for foreigners. Now women are allowed into sports stadium. The country built metros in the major cities.
All of these measures are positive reforms. Many of them are seismic shifts in the kingdom. In the near future, Saudi Arabia might make a lot of new regulations, changing the framework of the country completely.
With visionary leadership in place, and projects like NEOM, the future of the Kingdom and its people will yield better results.