Saudi Crown Prince reveals Neom megacity to be listed

Visitors watch a 3D presentation during an exhibition on "Neom", a new business and industrial city, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS
Updated 26 October 2017
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Saudi Crown Prince reveals Neom megacity to be listed

RIYADH: The $500 billion mega-city planned by Saudi Arabia will be floated on financial markets alongside oil giant Saudi Aramco as part of the kingdom’s drive to diversify away from oil, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview.
The 26,500-square kilometers business and industrial zone, named Neom, will extend into Jordan and Egypt. It was unveiled on Tuesday at a three-day international investment conference.
The surprise announcement is the latest — and most extraordinary — in a slate of privatization programs led by the floating of oil giant Saudi Aramco. The sales are designed to boost the Saudi economy and create jobs for millions of young people.
“Without a doubt, at the end of the day Neom will be floated in the markets. The first zone floated in the public markets. It’s as if you float the city of New York,” the Crown Prince said.
Prince Mohammed also said the Saudi Aramco IPO was on track for next year, dismissing reports of delays, adding it could be valued at more than $2 trillion.
He spoke on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative conference, which has attracted nearly 4,000 delegates from around the world to Riyadh this week.
Adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba and near maritime trade routes that use the Suez Canal, the zone will serve as a gateway to the proposed King Salman Bridge, which will link Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Neom will be fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) until its listing, and will attract investments from companies in renewable energy, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, the PIF has said.
“It won’t be listed in the markets until the idea is mature enough,” he said. “It might be after 2030, it might be before, but the idea and the strategy is to float it eventually.”
He said the name mixed “neo,” meaning new, with M, the first letter of the Arabic word for future.
It is part of the Vision 2030 plan to overhaul the economy of Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, and provide jobs for an overwhelmingly young population amid a global oil price decline since 2014.
Economic growth has slowed and the economy may shrink this year as the government introduces austerity measures.
“The idea is not to restructure the economy as much as to seize the opportunities available that we didn’t address before. We have high capacity and we use only a little.”
The Crown Prince said Saudi Arabia’s dispute with neighboring Qatar had not affected investment.
“Qatar is a very, very, very small issue,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and three Arab allies cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar earlier this year over accusations Doha supported Islamic “terrorists.” Qatar denies the allegations.
He said the kingdom’s war in Yemen would continue in order to prevent the Houthi armed movement from turning into another “Hezbollah” on Saudi’s southern border.
“We’re pursuing until we can be sure that nothing will happen there like Hezbollah again, because Yemen is more dangerous than Lebanon,” he said.


IDEX 2019: UAE armed forces sign new defense deals

Updated 19 February 2019
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IDEX 2019: UAE armed forces sign new defense deals

  • Falcon was developed in response to the UAE’s request to replace the Hawk Air Defense System

ABU DHABI: The UAE armed forces has signed $1.17 million worth of defense contracts with local companies and $514.8 million with international companies, military spokesperson Brigadier General Mohammed Al-Hassani said on Tuesday.

The Emirates on Monday also awarded Raytheon a $1.55 billion contract to supply its air force with platform systems to launch missiles.

The agreement was signed at the week-long IDEX military exhibition in Abu Dhabi and followed the award on Sunday of a 1.3 billion-dirham contract to Raytheon to supply the UAE with patriot missiles.

The UAE armed forces signed a total of 7.2 billion dirhams in contracts on Monday, including 5.8 billion dirhams with international companies, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Hassani said, speaking through a translator.

The UAE has signed a total of 12 billion dirhams in contracts since the IDEX exhibition started on Sunday, he said.

Lockheed Martin, Germany’s Diehl Defense, and Sweden’s Saab on Monday launched at IDEX the Falcon air defense weapon system, billed as a replacement to the Hawk system used by countries in the Middle East.

Falcon was developed in response to a UAE request for a replacement for the Hawk system and talks are underway to sell it to the Gulf state, Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and deputy head of Integrated Air and Missile Defense said.

Weapons sales to the UAE have come under scrutiny over the past year due to the country’s involvement in the Yemen war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of starvation.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a military coalition, which includes local forces drawn from Yemeni factions, that is trying to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in 2014 by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.