The ambitious project, called Neom, will be located in entirely new land and will be designed and constructed from scratch
Saudi Arabia will invest $500 billion from its Public Investment Fund for the construction of Neom, a mega-city that will span a (now-deserted) area of 26,500 km2 across the borders of northwest Saudi Arabia and into Jordan and Egypt, having a 468-kilometre waterfront to the Gulf of Aqaba. The city is designed to operate as an independent economic trade zone with its own laws and is to become the first private business zone to span three countries. It will feature a marina surrounded by sports, performance and art venues, as well as shops and restaurants, and will include the creation of a waterpark with a wave machine for training the next generation of Olympians. Neom word comes from the Greek prefix neo- meaning “new”- and the abbreviation of ‘Mostaqbal’, an Arabic word meaning ‘future’.
The plans for the city were announced in late-2017 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and are part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and establish it as an investment hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. Neom is expected to be a pioneer in the following nine key investment sectors: energy and water, mobility, biotech, food, technological and digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment. It will be solely powered by renewable energy harvested by the sun and the wind via fields of solar panels and windmills, while the development of new "disruptive" infrastructure would see citizens travelling in automated vehicles, having access to free internet and online education, and living in zero-carbon homes. Other innovations in infrastructure and mobility have been suggested as well (for example mundane or repetitive tasks will be carried out by robots). "Repetitive and arduous tasks will be fully automated and handled by robots, which may exceed the population, likely making the Neom's GDP per capita the highest in the world," the project’s site says. "All these elements will put Neom at the world's forefront in terms of efficiency, which will make it the best destination in the world to live in."
"The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth and diversification by nurturing international innovation and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth in the kingdom," said His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chair of the Public Investment Fund. "Future technologies form the cornerstone for Neom's development," he added, "disruptive solutions for transportation from automated driving to passenger drones, new ways of growing and processing food, healthcare centered around the patient for their holistic well-being, wireless high-speed internet as a free good called 'digital air', free world-class continuous online education, full scale e-governance putting city services at your fingertips, building codes that make net-zero carbon houses the standard, a city layout that encourages walking and bicycling and all solely powered by renewable energy just to name a few."
The first phase of construction is expected to complete by 2025, but exactly what this will include has not yet been made public. By 2030, the city is expected to have received $100 billion (£76 billion) in investment from the Public Investment Fund.