The centerpiece of the futuristic Neom site near the Gulf of Aqaba, the development’s extraordinary ambition was further revealed this week when Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s crown prince, outlined key components of what he intends to be one of the most ambitious urban developments ever constructed.
Since it was first unveiled in 2017, Neom has drawn attention for its futuristic features, like flying taxis and robot maids, even as economists and architects have questioned its viability.
The 500-meter-high, 200-meter-wide building, a car-free, carbon-neutral bubble that will claim nearly 100 per cent sustainability and a moderate, controlled microclimate, will use artificial intelligence at its core, according to the Saudis.
Environmentalists have expressed scepticism in the past about the kingdom’s environmental commitments, such as a promise to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060.
What had previously been an idea that even some of the project’s planners had difficulty visualising has now been given colour through multimedia presentations. The slickly rendered videos depict a megacity with hanging gardens that somewhat mimic the Death Star.
In addition to having access to other benefits like outdoor skiing facilities and a “high-speed train with an end-to-end travel of 20 minutes,” residents will be able to access “all everyday requirements” within a five-minute walk.
Saudi officials claim they have no plans to lift the nation’s prohibition on alcohol, despite the fact that Neom will function under its own foundation statute, which is currently being created.
Prince Mohammed’s efforts to change the kingdom from an oil-dependent economy and conservative society that he believes are unfit to propel the Kingdom forward are centred on his vision for modern living.
According to Prince Mohammed, the project’s “first phase” would cost 1.2 trillion Saudi riyals, or roughly £265 billion. It would last until 2030. He noted that in addition to government grants, other potential funding sources included the private sector and Neom’s anticipated IPO in 2024.
He said that Neom may create up to 380,000 jobs in the face of a growing population and a sizable proportion of young people looking for work.
According to Saudi estimates, the kingdom’s population might reach 50 million by 2030, with more than half of them being foreigners. The present population of Saudi Arabia is little about 35 million.