Published on 02nd August 2022
Neom City, or Project Neom, is a planned zero-carbon smart city planned by the Saudi government, envisioned by the Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The estimated budget for the project is calculated to be USD 500 billion, which both local and international investors will contribute. The city will be developed in multiple phases, with its first phase to be completed in 2025 and consisting of a linear 100-mile-long city, a floating industrial complex called the Oxagon and Neom Bay International Airport.
The Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman unveiled his ambitious plans for the Neom project in 2017. He envisions Neom to be a city that redefines urban living with no roads & conventional cars and zero pollution. His grand plans include making Neom the city of the future that runs entirely on clean energy like green hydrogen.
It was also part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify the Saudi economy, prevent GDP leakage, and enhance foreign investment into the peninsular kingdom by making it a world-class smart city. Nadhmi Al Nasr was appointed as the Director of the Neom company - the flagship company responsible for developing the Neom city and overseeing the complete project management.
The Neom project is located in Tabuk province in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is being built on a 26500 km² area (33 times bigger than New York City in the United States) stretched across a 468 KM long Red Sea coast. The metropolis is slated to be the hub of technology, innovation, culture, education, and a preferred tourist destination.
The location is ideal for several reasons. It is situated along the coast of the Red Sea and coral sea beaches. Its location between the highrise mountains paves the way for promoting mountain tourism for local and international tourists.
Neom is located in the confluence of three countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. Moreover, it can be reached in about 8 hours from major international destinations in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
According to Ali Shihabi, a member of the Neom Advisory Board, the Neom project will house a 170-km long linear city - The Line, a floating industrial hub - The Oxagon, Trojena, and Neom Bay.
Following the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates to build a 100% sustainable city with green buildings and renewable energy, the Saudi Authorities planned a step ahead to design the ‘The Line.’
The crown prince himself unveiled plans for The Line in January 2021. Designed as a 170-km long linear city within the Neom area, the city will house 1 million citizens once completed. Built as a futuristic city without the use of conventional methods and resources, The Line will have no roads and cars. The entire public transport system will be via rapid transit mode powered by 100% green energy.
The first phase 1 the project was to develop the residential area - Neom Bay, and an airport - the Neom Bay airport. As part of phase 1, an airport with a runway length of 3.75 km was to be constructed at Sharma. The airport was even registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and regular flight services between Riyadh and Neom were announced in June 2019.
Neom Industrial City (NIC) is a planned industrial hub to be constructed around 25 km north of Duba. The floating industrial city was designed in an octagonal shape, thus gaining the name - Oxagon and it would roughly cover 40 km². By expanding the existing Duba port to facilitate shipping through the Red Sea, NIC would be the hub for modern manufacturing and industrial research.
To achieve food sustainability in Neom, plans were laid out to convert 6,500 hectares of the surrounding land to agricultural fields, focussing primarily on genetically engineered crops.
Neom city is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the Arabian peninsula, with elevations ranging from 1,500–2,600 meters. Furthermore, the area is significantly cooler than other areas of the Neom territory. Thus, on 3 March 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Trojena project to develop Neom into a hub of mountain tourism with a major outdoor skiing destination to attract tourists from and outside the Arabian Peninsula.
The massive project was expected to cost the Saudi government a whooping SAR 1.2 trillion in the first phase that was scheduled to run until 2030. While the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi kingdom, will cover half of the budget, the other half will be raised from private investors, including other sovereign wealth funds in the middle east. An IPO was planned in 2023-2024 to list Neom on the Saudi stock market to raise SAR 1 trillion.
SoftBank, Siemens, Blackstone, and Boston Dynamics are in a serious discussion with the kingdom to invest in considerable stakes in the megaproject. Arab news even stated the involvement of Mubadala Investment Company.
Neom is an ambitious project of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 to make Saudi Arabia a diversified economy and support GDP growth propelled by technology, tourism, and sustainable development. The 500 billion dollar project would reportedly generate an estimated 380,000 jobs and add SAR 180 billion to the overall GDP of the kingdom.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long been pitching his plans to convert Saudi Arabia into a green and futuristic hub, and Neom is a step in the right direction.
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