Saudi Arabia’s dream city set to become a reality
The announcement of Neom city as one of three “giga-projects” launched last year by the Public Investment Fund was, I believe, by far the most important project the Saudi government has announced for decades. This project will not only diversify the economy by making a sizable non-oil contribution to Saudi Arabia’s GDP, but will also be a global hub for automation, robotics and solar technologies.
With its favorable position in the Global Solar Atlas, Neom will host the largest solar-powered city in the world and will generate half of the world’s capacity for solar energy. This solar city will help the Kingdom in exploring opportunities to establish industries in the fields of power generation systems and batteries, which will help to support diversification and create jobs in the advanced technologies industry.
After my personal observations of the keen interest shown by global private equity funds and other investors at conferences and special events organized by the PIF and others, I believe that Neom and the other giga-projects have already been added, or will be in the near future, to global private equity funds’ asset allocation models.
Neom is a big dream. But the Saudi leadership wants to make this dream a reality as a gift for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini
Another feature of this smart city is its leadership. There is a new trend by the Saudi government to have these giga-projects managed by leading professionals with proven track records. Neom’s CEO is Klaus-Christian Kleinfeld, who split his outstanding career between two global giants: Siemens and Alcoa. His background and experience will be another attractive factor for global investors to make their long-term investment decisions into Neom. And it will be a new experience for the future residents to experience an international executive running their city, with key performance indicators to evaluate his performance. Neom will be a game-changer in the way Saudi cities are managed.
It is worth noting that Vision 2030 is realizing and taking advantage of the huge, unutilized lots of lands in the massive Kingdom, which is more than eight times the size of the UK. Using cutting edge technology operated by skilled staff will help make a massive contribution to Saudi Arabia’s GDP and its diversification. This city will end up having more robots, including self-driven cars, than humans. Personally, being an active campaigner for safe driving, I do hope that Neom will have accident-free roads, especially with its self-driving cars. I am sure that young families will find it a city of choice to raise their kids in such a safe environment.
Neom city is located in the northwest of the country and has a total area of around 26,500 square kilometers. It will operate as an independent economic zone, with its own laws, taxes and regulations specially created to boost healthy growth and wealth for the region, investors and residents. It will focus on specialized living conditions that will drive the future of human civilization, energy, water, mobility, biotech, and food.
Neom is a big dream. But the Saudi leadership wants to make this dream a reality as a gift for our children, grandchildren and future generations to enjoy a quality, sustainable and safe lifestyle.
• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.