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New Project NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s New futuristic Mega-City

The number of robots in the New Project NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned project, may be higher than that of humans. The new pattern for sustainable life is likely to be entirely served by driverless vehicles and powered by renewable sources of energy. The farms are also likely to be vertical. The City, known as Neom, will span approximately 26500 square kilometres and will stretch across the borders of the northwest Saudi Arabia into Egypt and Jordan. The new city will also operate as independent economic trade zone that will have its own laws. It will stand as the first private business zone spanning three countries.

For the project to succeed, Saudi Arabia is expected to pump in around $500 billion into the project. The funds are from the country’s sovereign wealth fund (the Public Investment Fund), and will cater for nine primary investment sectors – water and energy, biotech, mobility, food, digital and technological sciences, entertainment and advanced manufacturing media.

The fields will attract higher calibre human resources while robots will carry out the repetitive and mundane tasks. According to a website dedicated to the concept, the number of robots will exceed that of humans in the New Project NEOM. That alone might make the city’s GDP per capita exceed that of any other country. Every element will contribute in putting NEOM at the forefront concerning efficiency. Many people will desire to live in the city.

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NEOM The New Future

NEOM is simply a combination of “neo” which means new and a derivation from Arabic word “mustaqbal” which means the future. NEOM will be partly situated in Ras Sheikh al-Hameed area – the land peninsula jutting around 51 kilometres (31 miles) into the Red Sea’s waters.

Around 25,900 square kilometres (10,000 square miles) are already allocated for the New Project NEOM development. That is roughly twice the size of Qatar. The people behind this project selected the area mainly due to its strategic location and the closeness to international shipping routes. Earlier in 2017, Egypt had to sign a treaty that gave the Saudis two islands that are important in linking the NEOM project to Sinai.

A drive through the allocated area cuts via a barren desert, which is bordered by desert flats and sunburnt off-white hills on the right side. A Saudi Border Guards base and communication tower sits across the peacock blue water. You will find nothing else around the pristine bay curvature apart from the wreck of Catalina airplane.

The prince knows exactly what he wants to build on the coast strip. The NEOM Bay will begin as an operational hub for the new city and later change into something like the Hamptons in New York. However, you should not interpret that as more jobs for the increasing population of Saudi Arabia. The prince believes that it is not the job of NEOM to create more jobs. It is solely a world hub for individuals from different parts of the world.

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Why Saudi Arabia has decided to build the NEOM city

Foreign workers and foreign investments have helped Dubai to expand widely. Foreign workers in Dubai are able to live more freely than in other places around the Gulf. The country tolerates alcohol and tourists in bikini. The government of United Arab Emirates has also allocated land for temples and churches.

In Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of Islam, businesses have to close for prayer severally during the day and booze is not allowed. The government does not allow women to drive – even though the law is set to change. Gender mixing is highly restricted in the public areas. The international society has highly criticized the country for Wahhabism export – Sunni Islam’s fundamentalist strain that inspires extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The city forms part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The country aims to be the investment hub connecting Europe, Asia and Africa by the year 2030. The positioning of the NEOM city across the borderlines of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan provides the city with 468 kilometres of Red Sea’s waterfront – in both the south and the north. The waterfront is also an important trade route in the region.

Image Credit: https://www.bloomberg.com

 

The plans to utilize the waterfront include marina surrounded by performance, sports, art venues, restaurants and shops. It will also feature a waterpark with wave machines to train the next generation Olympians. The project’s promotional video includes an image of Gardens by the Bay of Singapore, providing an idea of how NEOM will look like. The government expects to complete the first phase of the city by the year 2025, but it is yet to release the details of what that may entail. Even more, the government will have pumped around $100 billion, from the Public Investment Fund, into the project by year 2030.

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Will the new city compare with Dubai?

It took several decades to develop Dubai into the tourist destination it is today. Dubai has over 2.9 million residents and the tallest tower in the world. Moreover, some international banks such as the Standard Chartered Plc., have their headquarters in the city. Dubai International Airport is known to be the busiest airport in the world. That is after Atlanta’s and Beijing’s airports.

The new city will not compete with Dubai. Instead, it will complete it and the other parts of Gulf. The NEOM city will build new demand and not Dubai’s demand. The city will also highly help Kuwait because it will now be able to save costs and export faster to Europe.

How the new city will raise money

The new city’s promotional video highlights a lifestyle that is uncommon in Saudi Arabia. It showed women jogging freely in leotards in a public space, playing musical instruments and working alongside men. In the video, one woman is wearing a hijab and has covered her head with a modelled pink scarf. The new city will be business friendly but the government will not allow alcohol. Saudi Arabia has an aim of putting its name in the front line.

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Futurescope’s co-author and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and new trends.

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