Neom Saudi Arabia
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Neom, the city of the future according to Saudi Arabia

A city on 26,500 km2, established in the north-west of Saudi Arabia, on the banks of the Red Sea, with some border areas with Jordan and Egypt, where energy will be entirely renewable: this is Neom (1)the future new city of Saudi Arabia that Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salman presented on Tuesday 24 October. This will involve the creation of a gigantic, ultra-connected economic development zone with specific legislation and taxation designed to encourage investment and attract human skills. A technological paradise to ward off the crisis in a country undergoing restructuring.
 
Che place straight out of the sand will be a model of technology. Here, the kingdom wants to develop the renewable energy sectors with wind and photovoltaic farms and large-scale energy storage systems, water with a seawater desalination programme, biotechnology with the next generation of gene therapy, genomics, stem cell research, nano-biology and bioengineering, but also digital, and the leisure (entertainment), media and culture industries. This city of the future also intends to revolutionise the food supply of its citizens through vertical agriculture, the development of crops in arid areas and seawater, and the use of photovoltaic greenhouses.
 
Initial project of Neom established in Saudi Arabia. But eventually it is planned to extend to the shores of Egypt and Jordan in the Gulf of Aqaba © Google Maps

 
In this city of the future, high-speed wireless Internet would be free, becoming a public good, just like education, which would be provided online. Residents would live in buildings that do not emit greenhouse gases. "All this would allow a new way of life that would take into account both the aspirations and ambitions of humanity with the best technology and incredible economic prospects."In the press release, the prince, who wants to thoroughly modernize the kingdom, is delighted.
 
"Only dreamers will be welcome"Mohammed ben Salmane warned. That sets the tone ...
 

 
"A city where robots will outnumber humans": transport without driver, drones with passengers, ... all the ingredients of modernity will be concentrated there. The press release indicates that a very large part of the daily tasks would be automated via robots so that the city, which would be populated above all by people with "unique skills", would be likely to have "the highest GDP per capita in the world"...
"Neom is located on one of the world's most important economic arteries, through which nearly one-tenth of the world's trade flows pass," also reads a press release issued by the funds. The press release also reveals the project's ambition to create a commercial crossroads between several continents, stating: "Its strategic location will also facilitate the area's rapid development as a global hub linking Asia, Europe and Africa, enabling 70% of the world's population to reach it in less than eight hours. »
"All this will allow the emergence of a new way of life that will take into account the ambitions and perspectives of humanity, combined with the best future technologies and exceptional economic prospects", said the Saudi Crown Prince.
 
Crown Prince Mohammad ben Salman of Saudi Arabia and Klaus Kleinfeld, appointed CEO of the new economic zone, NEOM. ©HO/SPA/AFP
 

The mega-project, led by Klaus Kleinfeld, former CEO of Siemens and Alcoa, which is in line with Saudi Arabia's transformation plan "Vision 2030", is estimated at $500 billion in investment over several years. It should be financed by the Saudi government, its sovereign fund and local and international investors (See the costed project).
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2025, according to its presentation document.
 

Saudi Arabia is seeking to diversify its economy, which is too dependent on oil, whose prices have fallen over the last three years. Will this project come to fruition as promised? In any case, the advertising and publicity that is being done there is working wonders to alleviate a problem of international image ...
 
(1) or "Neo-Mostaqbal" which means "new future".
 
 
Photo : © Fayez Nureldine, AFP 
 

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