Neom is a new attempt to join technology, entrepreneurship, science, and innovation for one goal, which is to create a city with countless opportunities. This 170 km Saudi Arabian jewel is the focus of the Saudi Arabia Vision of 2030, which aspires to expand on the country’s strengths and capabilities. This 500-billion-dollar project is believed to grow the country’s economy and create a more active society. Sustainability, community, technology, nature, and liveability are the main areas that Neom will be addressing, as announced by Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Developmental Affairs, HH Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in 2017. This city will have a tremendous impact on the region and undoubtedly change the history of city design.
Phases and Costs
It is estimated that the city will cost about $500 billion in total, contributed mainly by international and local investors, and will develop in phases. The first one will be completed by 2023 and include a 100-mile linear city, a floating industrial complex called Oxagon, a tourism hub surrounded by the highest mountains called Trojena, and Neom Bay International Airport.
What the City Holds
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman revealed his ambitious plans for the Neom project in 2017. He envisions Neom as a clean city that redefines urban living without conventional roads or cars. His big plans include making Neom the city of the future powered entirely by clean energy like green hydrogen. As it is also part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify the Saudi economy, prevent GDP leaks and boost foreign investment in the peninsular kingdom by turning it into a smart city, it aims to make the area, a world-class alliance. To achieve such an aim, Nadhmi Al Nasr has been appointed as the director of Neom Company – the leading company responsible for Neom city development and overseeing the overall management of the project.
Location of Neom
The Neom project is located in Tabuk province, in Northwest Saudi Arabia. It was built on an area of 26,500 km² (33 times larger than New York City in the United States) stretching along the 468 km long Red Sea coast. The area will be a hub of technology, innovation, culture, education, and a privileged tourist destination. The location is ideal for several reasons. It is located along the coast of the Red Sea and the beaches of the Coral Sea. Its location among the high mountains creates a premise for promoting mountain tourism among domestic and international tourists. Moreover, Neom is located at the confluence of three countries—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. This means that it can be reached in about 8 hours from major international destinations in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Following in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates to build a 100% sustainable city with green buildings and renewable energy, the Saudi authorities have planned a unique design for the city: a line. The Crown Prince himself revealed plans for The Line in January 2021. Designed as a 170km linear city in the Neom region, the city will be home to 1 million citizens when completed. The Line will be built as a futuristic city without using conventional methods and resources. The entire public transport system will be in rapid transit mode, using 100% green energy.
Neom flight and airport
The first phase of the project is to develop a residential area – Neom Bay, and an airport – Neom Bay Airport. In Phase 1, an airport with a 3.75 km runway will be built at Sharma. The airport has even been registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and regular flight services between Riyadh and Neom were announced in June 2019.
Neom Industrial City (Oxagon)
Neom Industrial City (NIC) is an industrial centre about 25 kilometres north of Duba. This floating industrial city is designed in an octagonal shape, hence the name Oxagon. It covers an area of about 40 km². By expanding the existing Port of Duba to facilitate shipping through the Red Sea, NIC will be a modern industrial research and manufacturing hub.
The city of Neom is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the Arabian Peninsula, with elevations ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters. Trojena is significantly cooler than other parts of Neom territory. So, on March 3, 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans to develop Trojena’s Neom into a mountain tourism hub with a major outdoor skiing destination to attract tourists.
To achieve food sustainability in Neom, plans have been made to convert 6,500 hectares of surrounding land into agricultural fields, with a major focus on genetically modified crops.
Neom Project Investor
This massive project is expected to cost the Saudi government SAR 1.2 trillion in the first phase expected to be finished by 2030. While the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will cover half of the budget, the other half will be raised from private investors, including Middle East sovereign wealth funds. SoftBank, Siemens, Blackstone and Boston Dynamics are having serious talks with the Kingdom to invest in a large stake in the megaproject. Arab News even reported the involvement of Mubadala Investment Company.
Towards a Vision of 2030
Neom is an ambitious project within the kingdom’s Vision of 2030. It aims to transform Saudi Arabia into a diversified economy and support GDP growth through technology, tourism, and sustainable development. The $500 billion project will create around 380,000 jobs and add SAR 180 billion to the kingdom’s overall GDP. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long outlined his plan to make Saudi Arabia a green, futuristic hub, and Neom is a step in the right direction.