Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Sa

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Sa

Saudi Arabia sets up $500bn special zone

01 November 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has announced a new $500-billion project, Neom, aimed at turning the kingdom into a leading global hub that exemplifies the future of human civilisation by offering its inhabitants an idyllic lifestyle combined with exceptional economic prospects.

Set to be the world’s first independent special zone stretching over three countries – extending across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders – Neom will become a new vibrant destination located in the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia.

Unveiling the mega masterplan, Prince Mohammed said: “Neom was born from Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to see the country develop into a pioneering and thriving model of excellence in various and important areas of life.

“It stretches over 26,500 sq km of land and extends across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, rendering Neom the first special economic zone to span three countries.

“Neom will focus on nine specialised investment sectors and living conditions that will drive the future of human civilisation: energy and water, mobility, biotech, food, technological and digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment with livability as its foundation,” remarked Prince Mohammed, who is also the chairman of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF).

“The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth and diversification by nurturing international innovation and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth in the kingdom,” he stated.

The Crown Prince said Neom will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships.

“It will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by Saudi Arabia, the PIF, local as well as international investors,” he stated.

Neom will be sitting on one of the globe’s busiest economic arteries, through which nearly a tenth of the world’s trade flows, remarked Prince Mohammed. Neom commands a unique location to bring together the best of Arabia, Asia, Africa, Europe and America.Overlooking the waterfront of the Red Sea to the south and the west, and the Gulf of Aqaba, Neom enjoys an uninterrupted coastline stretching over 468 km, with a dramatic mountain backdrop rising to 2,500 m to the east.

The wind and sun will allow Neom to be powered solely by regenerative energy.

Its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa, enabling 70 per cent of the world’s population to reach it in under eight hours, which brings the potential to combine the best of major global regions in terms of knowledge, technology, research, teaching, learning, living and working.

Prince Mohammed said the site will also become the main entrance to the King Salman Bridge, linking Asia and Africa, which will add to the zone’s economic significance.

Investments and financing will play a vital role in Neom,to be spearheaded by the kingdom’s economy and supported by PIF – a major global fund with access to a worldwide network of investors – and major companies set to be brought onboard to drive the success of the venture.

With the ambition of becoming one of the world’s future economic and scientific capitals, in addition to being the future commerce capital of Saudi Arabia, Neom is set to attract new foreign direct investment that will contribute to PIF’s long-term growth strategy aimed at strengthening the Saudi Arabian economy.

The Deputy Premier said Neom is being developed to be independent of the kingdom’s existing governmental framework, excluding sovereignty.

It will adopt a regulatory framework that fosters technological as well as societal innovation and entrepreneurship in accordance with international best practices.

Investors, businesses, and innovators will be consulted at every step of the development in how best to create the economic framework, design the urban plans, and attract top quality talent that will drive the growth of this zone and its resident population.

“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 and we will use this opportunity to build a new way of life with excellent economic prospects,” explained Prince Mohammed.

Neom, he stated will achieve its ambitious goals of becoming among the top secure areas in the world - if not the most - by adopting the future technologies in the fields of security and safety.

“This will raise the standards of public life activities and ensure the safety and protection of residents, visitors, and investors,” he added.

Dr Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and CEO of Alcoa and Arconic, the global leaders in the aluminium industry as well as multi-material precision engineered products and solutions, has been appointed as the CEO of this new venture.

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