Robots to roam $500 billion Saudi city

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Updated 24 October 2017

Robots to roam $500 billion Saudi city

DUBAI: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday unveiled ambitious plans for a new city state that would also straddle Jordan and Egypt in the kingdom’s northwest with up to $500bn in investments.
Called Neom, the city will be powered by solar and wind energy, and is likely to have more robots than people living there.
The business zone, spanning 26,500 square kilometers, would be a showcase for modernity, Saudi ingenuity and new technologies, the Crown Prince told a panel discussion at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh.

The forum that has attracted business and financial leaders from around the world is being sponsored by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). He said: “We will build the city from scratch, it will be drone-friendly and a center for the development of robotics. We want to create something different. Neom is a place for dreamers who want to create something new in the world, something extraordinary.”
Klaus Kleinfeld, former head of aluminum giant Alcoa has been appointed CEO of NEOM. In response to a question, he told the panel’s audience: “Saudi Arabia hasn’t only been blessed with oil and gas, but with sun and wind as well. We can use technology to accelerate economic development.
The plans are part of the Crown Prince’s vision to overhaul the country’s economy and decrease its reliance on oil. The Neom project will focus on nine different investment sectors including energy, water, biotech and robotics.
Masayoshi Son, chairman of Japan’s Softbank, disclosed the bank would be making an investment in Saudi Electric as part of a push to develop green energy in the Kingdom. Son said robots could outnumber people in Neom.
Marc Raibert, CEO of Boston Dynamics told the conference: “Robots could perform a variety of functions – covering areas such as security, logistics, home deliveries and even looking after the elderly and infirm.

PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

Updated 22 March 2019

PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

  • Infrastructure upgrades included public transport facilities
  • Centers for disability rehabilitation are growing across the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Major infrastructure rebuilds to aid disabled people have been completed in Makkah and Madinah, the United Nations heard on Thursday.

Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), made the announcement in Geneva during the 21st session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He said that the move came as part of a wider range of programs aimed at empowering the disabled in Saudi Arabia, to provide them with a suitable education, tools and the employment opportunities to ensure their independence and maintain a good quality of life. 

He added that the infrastructure updates included public transport facilities that were disability friendly, and easy access to government buildings and important historical and religious sites across the two cities.

“The Saudi government is keen to serve the Two Holy Mosques and other holy sites, and harness the necessary resources to serve pilgrims, and this includes the completion of major infrastructure targets that take into account the needs of people with disabilities,” Al-Aiban said.

“The government’s financial support for associations and NGOs for people with disabilities amounted to more than SR70 million ($18.7 million) in 2018. People with disabilities are also members of the Shoura Council, and hold leadership positions in various sectors. 

He also mentioned the recent establishment of the Saudi Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs, noting the growing number of centers for disability rehabilitation across the country, and the exemplary standards they set for disabled services in the Gulf.