Saudi Arabia's new city Neom is being built for dreamers
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to build a city for "the dreamers of the world." A $500 billion plan was recently unveiled for the creation of Neom, the new mega city-state that will connect Jordan and Egypt. The city, spread across 26,500 square km, will have everything that the prince envisions for Saudi Arabia's future. Read on to know more.
Women will enjoy better quality of life in Neom
Neom is envisaged to be a melting pot of arts, culture, education and breakthrough research in industries including energy, water, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing. It is also expected to be a place where Saudi women will be able to exercise greater freedom. A promotional video featuring a vision for Neom shows women jogging publicly in sports bras and working with men in science labs.
Neom is Saudi Arabia's biggest attempt yet towards oil-export reliance
It is the biggest effort by Saudi Arabia yet to make the kingdom independent of oil exports. The nation is taking several measures to attract new investment. It hopes to raise $300 billion through a privatization program which includes selling off 5% of oil giant Saudi Aramco. It has also allowed key foreign investors to own over 10% of listed Saudi companies.
Building Neom as per expectations will be extremely difficult
Though Saudi Arabia expects to amass over half a trillion dollars with the combined participation of the government, public interest fund and private investors, building Neom on the scale it envisages will be difficult. The kingdom is infamous for red tapism and uncertain legal environment. Add to it the ambitious plan to power Neom solely on wind and solar energy.
'We want to return to what we were: moderate Islam'
The vision for Neom contrasts sharply with the reality that plagues conservative Saudi Arabia. However, Prince Mohammed has been at the forefront of Saudi's recent economic and social reforms -lifting the ban on women driving - aimed to modernize the kingdom. According to him, "We weren't like this in the past. We want to go back to what we were: moderate Islam."