The government of Saudi Arabia has announced that it will build a new city on the red sea coast that will be entirely independent from existing governmental frameworks.
Unveiling “NEOM” during a global business conference in Riyadh, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the project will be backed by more than $500bn from the Saudi government, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and local and international investors, according to a statement.
The Crown Prince said: “NEOM will be constructed from the ground-up, on greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years.”
The scope of the project will include a bridge spanning the Red Sea, connecting the proposed city to Egypt and the rest of Africa. About 10,000 square miles have also been allocated for the development of the area that will stretch into Jordan and Egypt, Arabian Business reported.
“Its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub,” Prince Mohammed said.
“NEOM is situated on one of the world’s most prominent economic arteries, through which nearly a tenth of the world’s trade flows,” he added.
Described as “the world’s first independent special zone stretching over three countries”, the project is just one of many recently launched by Saudi Arabia to spur economic growth during a time of budgetary cutbacks.
And with many attempts to revamp Saudi’s economic projects falling short in recent years, Prince Mohammed is now working actively to drive transformation in the kingdom.
“We are aware that the economic cities of the last decade did not realize their potential,” he said last year in a Bloomberg report. He added, however, that the government would work to “salvage” and “revamp” economic city projects launched over the past decade.
As a result, several announcements and deals have been made this year in an attempt to realise this plan, while bolstering the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative that was launched in April 2016.
The kingdom’s Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) announced recently that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UAE developer Meraas Holding to develop projects in the country.
JODC's non-binding MoU with the developer will span six months, with more details regarding the deal to be issued in due course.
Several other project were launched in the last year, including the Red Sea project which will be the kingdom’s newest cultural destination located between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh.
The project, covering an area of 34,000 square kilometres, will have a dedicated new airport and sea port as well as hotels and luxury residences.
Ground will be broken for the development in Q3 2019, with its first phase due for completion in Q4 2022.