RIYADH: Day by day, NEOM is becoming a reality as more facilities are built at the project’s first urban area, NEOM Bay. It is just the start, and work will continue endlessly, CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said in his address to a large diplomatic gathering on their first visit to the site, located in the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia.
With cool weather, clean beaches and historical sites, NEOM is set to be a beautiful and sustainable destination.
Speaking to over 160 diplomats who attended NEOM’s first ever beach sports events, Al-Nasr stated that the first phase of NEOM’s construction is now complete, and the world’s most ambitious project is set to announce its second phase strategy by the end of 2019.
The journey of NEOM started in October 2017 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman introduced the project to the world. The first phase strategy, a plan covering the economic concept, the funding, and the road map of the project, was developed, while the second phase will include detailed plans for NEOM’s 16 economic sectors and regions.
“We started Phase 2’s strategy, and we will finish that by end of 2019, which means by the end of the year we will share with the world what NEOM is going to be,” Al-Nasr added while speaking in Gayal, a coastal site close to Sharma, where NEOM’s first commercial airport is located.
NEOM Bay will host a second airport, offices, and residential units for construction workers assigned to the rest of the development. One of its business objectives is to be home to new technologies that will influence the new wave of industrialization. To spur the technological advancement within NEOM, Al-Nasr said that the project “will be funding technology development, and we will be partnering with leading technology partners in the world.”
As one of its 16 economic sectors, the tourism sector plans to be a major destination as it targets 5 million visitors by 2030, Al-Nasr told the diplomats. For this purpose, NEOM is developing different island and mountain resorts. Attracting such a huge number of visitors is a challenge, and the CEO added: “Some are saying that this is a long shot, but our business is to only address long shots.”
NEOM is also targeting 1 million citizens by the year 2030 “or little bit beyond,” he said.
NEOM is strategically situated in a location accessible by 70 percent of global population within 8 hours. Al-Nasr highlighted that Rome is reachable by air in around 3 hours, while London is 5 hours away.
In his address, he invited the diplomats to be part of NEOM. “We want you to think that one day you could be living in NEOM, working and retiring in NEOM, and of course, we don’t mind you investing in NEOM.”
Australian Ambassador Ridwaan Jawdat told Arab News: “I was very impressed by the incredible natural beauty of the NEOM site — the beaches, water and coral reefs were stunning. I enjoyed touring the locations and meeting the staff. It is an extraordinarily ambitious project, and I was very happy to be given some insights on the vision and the planning.”
The tour concluded with a visit to the International Beach Soccer Tournament hosted by NEOM.
Dutch Ambassador Joost Reintjes asked about the King Salman Bridge, which Al-Nasr explained would “not only connect Saudi Arabia with Egypt, but with Asia and Africa.”
He concluded: “We started NEOM but we aren’t going to finish. There is no end to NEOM.”