Saudi Arabia's NEOM: A US$500 Billion City Being Built 'For A New Way Of Living'
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on Tuesday the Kingdom's most ambitious plan yet to free itself from dependency on oil. Prince Salman revealed a US$500 billion proposal to build a new transnational "independent special zone" on the Red Sea coastline that extends into Jordan and Egypt. Strategically located in proximity to international markets and trade routes, the 26,500 square km zone -dubbed as NEOM- is set to be powered by renewable energy, and has its eyes on incorporating elements of key sectors such as energy, advanced manufacturing, biotech, and media & entertainment.
Announced at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, NEOM (short for New Future) will operate independently from the "existing governmental framework," and is said to be funded by the Saudi government, its sovereign wealth fund, and local and international investors, according to a statement. Dr. Klaus Kleinfeld, the former Chairman and CEO of Alcoa and Arconic Inc. has been appointed as CEO of NEOM. "The NEOM project is set to transform the Kingdom into a leading global innovation and trade hub through the introduction of value chains of traditional and future industries and technologies to stimulate local industry, private sector job creation and GDP growth in the Kingdom," reads an official note on NEOM, explaining the project's mission.
The completion of the first stage of the project is expected to be by end of 2025, and its contribution to the Kingdom's GDP is projected to reach "at least $100 billion by 2030." It's exciting times ahead for Saudi Arabia as the world watches how the Kingdom follows through on its ambitious economic and social upheaval plans.