Saudi Arabia recently announced a plan to build a megacity called Neom City, meaning “New Future”. The dream for the city was set in motion and in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, set to reshape the Kingdom’s economy and become an investment hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. The intentions for Neom City, which will be the world’s first real smart city, are for it to fuel commercial and industrial development and reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil. Neom City is being built from the ground up on untouched land and will cover 26,500 square kilometers. It is located along the northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia, positioned across the borders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and with access to the Red Sea. The project is estimated to be worth $500 billion.
The project of this megacity is a visionary project and is unique from any other development venture out there. The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund as the project owner formally oversees the development, and a special authority, chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will oversee the city in its entirety. Neom will be an independent special zone with its own laws and social norms, a fully automated megacity with the goal of being the most efficient destination in the world, and be entirely green-powered by solar and wind power. The Neom website reads, “NEOM is a new kind of tomorrow in the making. A new blueprint for sustainable life on a scale never seen before, where inventiveness shapes a new inspiring era for human civilization.”
The futuristic features of NEOM range from having more robots than humans, “digital air” provided for residents including free high-speed Internet and online education, vertical farms, zero-carbon homes, driverless cars, and other modern technology to support the smart city. In this “new blueprint for sustainable life”, mundane tasks will be completed by robots and people can be inspired by this hub of connectivity. Food, for example, will be provided by vertical farms and solar-powered greenhouses.
To get construction started on the city, the Saudi government made significant investments from the start. Major investors include the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. To continue on with the project, there has been a large draw for private domestic investments and partnership as well as foreign investment. The Public Investment Fund is expected to invest $100 billion in Neom by 2030. According to Saudi Press Agency, the first phase of NEOM will be completed by 2020 and the project in whole to be completed by 2025 with possible delays.
Neom will also have positive effects on the country’s economy, as the megacity will boost growth for: energy and water mobility, biotechnology, education, food, advanced manufacturing, technological and digital sciences, entertainment and culture. Due to its location and draw, it is intended to become a trade hub and meeting point for international markets. By drawing international innovation and local industry, the GDP growth in the Kingdom is expected to grow as it drives progress and also creates jobs. In terms of GDP growth, the Saudi Gazette estimated Neom’s contribution to reach $100 billion by 2030.
This project is expected to attract people from all around the world and is a huge opportunity for Saudi Arabia. It is a city of the future and is unlike anything that any of us have seen before. The ambition for the development of Neom City is to make it an exciting and fulfilling place, and it will be a true tribute to progress, innovation, and a “new blueprint for sustainable life”.