Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced on Tuesday plans to build a new city of the future, promising to usher in a progressive generation that will reshape the Middle Eastern country as it seeks to prepare for the post-oil age.
NEOM: City of the Future
The future city, named “NEOM”, stems from Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, a strategy created to reduce the country’s dependence on oil.
NEOM, which will be located on the coast of the Red Sea, will span more than 10,000 square miles (26,500 square kilometers), extending across the borders of Egypt and Jordanian, making it the “first special economic zone to span three countries,” according to Saudi Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman.
The city will focus on nine sectors, “some conventional, some new” to capture a “good share in the future of the world” he said during a panel discussion in Riyadh hosted by FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
$500 Billion to Build
NEOM will backed by more than $500 billion from the kingdom, its Public Investment Fund, local and international investors including Blackstone (NYSE:BX). CEO Stephen Schwartzman, speaking at a conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, discussed the many opportunities that come with building a city from scratch.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of black gold, is determined to raise the amount of non-oil government revenue through “added investments, the development of unexploited assets” and implementing structural reforms, all part of the Vision 2030 plan.
A City with a CEO
Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and CEO of Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and Arconic (NYSE:ARNC), two major players in the aluminum industry, was appointed to lead the development of the project.
"NEOM is a unique opportunity to combine highest levels of livability with excellent economic prospects” said Kleinfeld in a statement.
Kleinfeld also has previous experience serving on several multinational boards, including the Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S.–Russia Business Council.
Solar, Drones & Robots
NEOM will embody all the characteristics of a futuristic city, according to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. For example, NEOM will be a “leader in solar” promised NEOM CEO Kleinfeld during the panel discussion.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, also in attendance, highlighted the rising use of robots adding, “Self-driving cars will be robots, a drone that flies, a robot, a drone that swims, a robot, “all kinds of robots will be here,” he commented.
NEOM=New Way of Life for Saudi Arabia
The new city is expected to allow for “a new way of life” and aims to increase safety in the region, “while enhancing the competencies of public life activities.”
Furthermore, the “concept of the workforce” for the new economy will be based on bringing in high-quality human resources and competencies, while repeated tasks will be completed by robots, which could “exceed the population making the region's per capita of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the highest in the world,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.