Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to build a $500 billion metropolis in the desert. Powered entirely by green energy, the development is part of the kingdom’s efforts to diversity its economy away from oil.
The urban project was announced at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in what Bloomberg called “a rare public appearance”.
“We try to work only with the dreamers,” the 32-year-old crown prince told investors. “This place is not for conventional people or companies.”
Called NEOM, the project will be backed by more than $500 billion from the Saudi government, its wealth fund, as well as local and international investors, according to a statement. It will operate outside the “existing governmental framework”, with investors consulted at every step of the development.
The ambitious, future-oriented megacity will span Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and cover 26,500 square kilometres, including 468 kilometres of uninterrupted coastline. It will be developed from the ground up on untouched land, allowing the developers to “build a new way of life with excellent economic prospects”.
Emphasis will be on future technologies and disruptive solutions for transportation, food production, healthcare, internet access, education and e-governance. Net-zero carbon houses will be the standard, and the city layout will encourage walking and bicycling. The entire city will be solely powered by renewable energy, namely wind and sun.
According to World Architecture News, the project has already caught the attention of prominent foreign investors, including SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman.
The crown prince told investors that there is no set timeline for the project, explaining that innovative ideas take time.
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