Date
11 December 2017
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

Saudis unveil US$500 bln plan to build new mega city

Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to build a new city on the Red Sea coast, a project that will involve more than US$500 billion in investment as the oil-rich kingdom seeks to diversify its economy.  

The initiative, called “NEOM”, was announced Tuesday by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said the project will operate independently from the existing governmental framework, Bloomberg reports.

The venture will be backed by capital from the Saudi government, its sovereign wealth fund and local and international investors, the report said, citing a statement released at an international business conference in Riyadh.

Prince Mohammed, 32, made a rare public appearance at the conference to promote the project, telling the bankers and economic policy makers in attendance that the kingdom is moving to a “new generation of cities”.

NEOM will be powered by clean energy, and will have no room “for anything traditional”, he was quoted as saying.

The ambitious plan includes a bridge spanning the Red Sea, connecting the proposed city to Egypt and the rest of Africa. Some 10,000 square miles have been allocated for the development of the urban area that will stretch into Jordan and Egypt.

Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and chief executive of Siemens and Alcoa, was appointed to lead the development of NEOM.

A promotional video released on Tuesday features a lifestyle so far unavailable in Saudi cities, Bloomberg noted. 

The unveiling of the new project comes as Saudi officials want to overhaul the economy and reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports. A reform drive has been underway for the past two years.

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RC

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