Plans for a future mega-city in Saudi Arabia, encompassing automated tech, renewable energy

Saudi Arabia plans to build a futuristic mega-city worth $500 billion that will be powered through the use of renewable energy.

Neom, the project’s name, will be established along Saudi Arabia’s coastline near Egypt and Jordan. It could branch out Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil. The futuristic city will span 26,500 square km or 10,230 square miles, covering three countries. The zone will be next to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. It will also be close to maritime trading routes that use the Suez Canal. The project also aims to build a bridge connecting the mega-city to Egypt and the rest of Africa. It will serve as an entry to the King Salman Bridge, which was earlier announced to connect Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“Neom is situated on one of the world’s most prominent economic arteries,” said the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “Its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe, and Africa.”

According to bin Salman, Neom will reduce the kingdom’s dependence on oil exports. The mega-city will concentrate on different industries such as energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing, and entertainment. In addition, the mega-city will aim to be a center for automated technology such as driverless cars, drone, and robotics.

“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,” the Crown Prince said in an Arab News article.

The mega-city will be powered through the use of renewable energy such as wind power and solar energy, according to the PIF. The project is being paid for by the PIF, which is the top sovereign fund of the country. In addition, the government of Saudi Arabia and international technology companies will help establish the city.

“Neom will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships. The zone will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, local, as well as international investors,” he added.

Klaus Kleinfield, the former chief executive officer of Siemens AG and Alcoa Inc., was assigned to lead the development of Neom.

The name “Neom” was derived from the initials of the main nine sectors and some of the key landmarks in the zone, and the word mustaqbil, which means future. Combined together, the name is neo-mustaqbil, but since it is too long, it was shortened to “Neom.”

“It sounds like a futuristic name at the same time so there is a meaning behind it,” bin Salman told Reuters in an interview.

The Saudi Crown Prince announced the project at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The conference highlighted the kingdom’s efforts to branch out its revenue sources from relying on oil exports as falling oil prices negatively affected its economy. It was attended by business giants, corporate managers from some of the world’s largest firms, and senior Saudi officials. (Related: Saudi Arabia to run out of groundwater in 13 years … The collapse of food producing agriculture won’t be far behind.)

The first phase of the mega-city would be finished by 2025, the PIF said in a statement, as reported by Arab News.

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