NEOM begins to take shape in 2021: Year in Review

NEOM begins to take shape in 2021: Year in Review
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Updated 07 January 2022

NEOM begins to take shape in 2021: Year in Review

NEOM begins to take shape in 2021: Year in Review
  • The futuristic city is expected to welcome its first residents by 2024, says CEO

RIYADH: NEOM, the $500 billion (SR1.9 trillion) jewel in the crown of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plans, took several strides forward this year with the announcement of two major projects and news that the region could welcome its first visitors in 2024.

The new net-zero megacity on the Kingdom’s northwest Red Sea coast will cover 10,000 square miles, an area 33 times the size of New York, and will be powered entirely by clean energy.

The futuristic car-free region will be run by advanced technologies such as human-machine fusion, artificial and predictive intelligence, and robotics. More than 1 million people will live in the area that will also host sporting, cultural, scientific and tourist attractions.

 

The region is the flagship giga-project of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plans, to diversify its economy from oil, ease social customs and boost investment. 

Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman launched the project, which is backed by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth body the Public Investment Fund, in 2017.

The NEOM company says the megacity will also seek outside investors for the project, which is projected to contribute $48 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2030.

Major earthworks and tunneling through mountains has already begun in the region that houses 1,500 people, NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr told Bloomberg TV in October.




Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM. (Supplied)

He said: “It’s a huge undertaking. Today if you go to NEOM you will see construction all over, you will see earthworks going on all over, you will see regions that are being developed.”

One of the two key projects that were announced this year is THE LINE, a 105-mile long green city, which will have its own schools, clinics, leisure facilities, and open spaces within a five-minute walk.

The project is expected to create 380,000 jobs and to contribute SR180 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030.

 

Al-Nasr told Bloomberg TV that the city could welcome its first residents by 2024.

The other key announcement this year was the launch of the OXAGON, an eight-sided city that will be an industrial district and port. NOEM said the area will be “home to the world’s first fully automated port and integrated logistics hub.” 

Half of OXAGON will float on the Red Sea, where around 10 percent of the world’s trade sails pass in container ships.

Today if you go to NEOM you will see construction all over, you will see earthworks going on all over, you will see regions that are being developed.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM

NEOM says the industrial city will use the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics to create “a seamless integrated, intelligent and efficient supply chain.”

It has been a busy year for NEOM. These are its highlights:

April — NEOM awarded the US-based engineering firm Parsons Corporation a management consultancy role in OXAGON. 

 

April — NEOM also said it would develop a plant to build up to 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles a year. It signed an agreement with US-based Hyzon Motors, which builds zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles, and Saudi conglomerate Modern Industrial Investment Holding Group as part of this move.

June — NEOM signed a deal with South Korean project and construction management firm HanmiGlobal to manage administrative services on THE LINE, which includes design, structure and execution.

FASTFACT

1 million

The futuristic car-free region will be run by advanced technologies such as human-machine fusion, artificial and predictive intelligence, and robotics. More than 1 million people will live in the area that will also host sporting, cultural, scientific and tourist attractions.

June — NEOM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology also announced a joint project to establish the world’s largest coral garden at Shusha Island in the Red Sea area by the mega-city. The project, scheduled to be completed in 2025, covers 100 hectares on Shusha Island on the shores of the Red Sea, and bids to establish the region as a global center for protecting and restoring coral reefs.

 

July — NEOM company received tunnel work pre-qualifications for the China Railway Construction Corp. to operate.

September — NEOM invited bids for the construction of 31 km of tunnels. This project is a part of the infrastructure backbone of THE LINE and the deadline for bids is Dec. 30, according to GlobalData’s MEED.

October — NEOM announced technology firm Oracle as the first tenant of its hyper-scale data centre in the megacity. The data center will be based at the meeting point between terrestrial and sub-sea cable cables, allowing it to provide customers with fast and reliable connectivity.

November — the crown prince announced the launch of OXAGON, a floating, eight-sided city, set to be the largest floating industrial complex in the world.

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Alturki migrating recently-bought US drilling firm to Dhahran

Alturki migrating recently-bought US drilling firm to Dhahran
Updated 11 sec ago

Alturki migrating recently-bought US drilling firm to Dhahran

Alturki migrating recently-bought US drilling firm to Dhahran

DAMMAM: Investment firm Alturki Holding is shifting the base of a US drilling firm it recently acquired to Dhahran, according to the head of the company.

Speaking to Arab News, Alturki’s CEO Rami Alturki said the move was related to Newsco International Energy Services, which it snapped up in October 2021 for an undisclosed amount. 

The comments came on the sideline of the Saudi Aramco hosted In-Kingdom Total Value Add forum, held in Dhahran.

Referring to Newsco, Alturki said: “We are in the process of migrating the company to be based here in Dhahran.” 

Alturki also commented on another of his firm’s subsidiaries, Sawafi Borets, which was awarded a contract to create a $50 million facility in King Salman Energy Park, or SPARK, to assemble electrical submersible pumps.

“We're also very involved on the construction side, building facilities for Aramco across the Kingdom,” he added. 


Iraqi ‘super app’ Baly raises $10.5m in funding round

Iraqi ‘super app’ Baly raises $10.5m in funding round
Updated 10 min 22 sec ago

Iraqi ‘super app’ Baly raises $10.5m in funding round

Iraqi ‘super app’ Baly raises $10.5m in funding round

RIYADH: Iraq’s first super app Baly raised a historic $10.5 million in its latest funding round — the most ever for a tech startup in the country. 

Baly launched ride-hailing as its first service in Baghdad last month, and already boasts thousands of rides each day, according to a press release.

Additional services, like food and grocery delivery, will go live in the next few weeks, and Baly will expand to cover more cities in the country.

The startup will be able to use the new funds to support its scaling efforts in operations and market growth.

Managing director Matteo Mantovani said:“Iraq is home to 40 million people, with over 90 percent smartphone penetration amongst those aged 17-40. 

“With a young, urbanized population, it is the perfect place to revolutionize the economy through digital services.

Arnd Lodowicks, chief financial officer of Rocket Internet said: “Baly is for us a world-class team in an extremely exciting and promising market. 

“We are looking forward to supporting  the company on its mission to become the leading super app of Iraq.”

Venture space in Iraq observed a new record-high in funding over 2021, despite the political and socio-economic challenges in the region, according to Baly.

It crossed the $5 million mark over five deals in 2021, recording a 170 percent year on year jump in VC funding.

Kingsway Capital, MSA Capital, Global  Founders Capital, Vostok Ventures, Majid Al Futtaim, and March Holding, all participated in the funding round for Baly.


HP wins fraud case against UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch

HP wins fraud case against UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch
Updated 8 min 44 sec ago

HP wins fraud case against UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch

HP wins fraud case against UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch

LONDON: Hewlett-Packard won the majority of its civil case against British tech tycoon Mike Lynch over its acquisition of Autonomy in 2011, a London judge said on Friday, though damages will be considerably less than the $5 billion claimed.
The court’s decision comes on the same day as Britain has to decide whether or not to extradite Lynch to the United States after almost a decade of bitter wrangling over who was to blame for the failure of Hewlett-Packard’s $11 billion takeover of Lynch’s Autonomy.
HP had sued Lynch, arguing that he had fraudulently inflated the value of Autonomy before he sold it to the US tech giant. Lynch had argued that HP mismanaged the acquisition.
High Court Justice Robert Hildyard said HP had substantially succeeded in their case but the damages would be less than they were demanding.
Lynch faces separate criminal charges in the US, including wire fraud and securities fraud.
A year after acquiring Autonomy, HP threw out the architect of the deal which was supposed to help transform the computer and printer maker, one of Silicon Valley’s original companies, into a more profitable group centered on business software and services.
It wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8 billion and sought damages of around $5 billion from Lynch and his colleague Sushovan Hussain, alleging they inflated the value of Autonomy before selling it. Hussain was convicted in the United States in 2019.
Lynch has denied all the allegations.
Lynch is due to hear on Friday whether Britain’s interior minister Priti Patel has approved the extradition request to the United States.
A court has given Patel until midnight on Friday to make a decision, although Lynch could appeal any ruling that goes against him. The US charges carry a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment.
Lynch is one of Britain’s leading tech bosses. He founded Autonomy which was capable of searching and organizing unstructured information, such as telephone conversations.
The 56-year-old’s doctoral thesis remains one of the most consulted at Cambridge University and his success, including the around $800 million he made from his stake in Autonomy, elevated his position in Britain, giving him a place on government advisory boards.
Lynch was also central to the creation of DarkTrace , a cybersecurity firm that listed on the stock market last year. Lynch and his wife Angela Bacares own nearly 16 percent of DarkTrace, according to Refinitiv


Global stocks head for worst January since 2008 financial crisis

Global stocks head for worst January since 2008 financial crisis
Updated 13 min 13 sec ago

Global stocks head for worst January since 2008 financial crisis

Global stocks head for worst January since 2008 financial crisis
  • MSCI’s 50-country main world index is now down over 8.1 percent for the month

LONDON: European stocks fell heavily again on Friday as worries about a sudden halt to central bank stimulus and rising tensions between Western powers and Moscow drove one of the worst ever starts to a year for world stock markets.
Strong earnings from Apple provided some encouragement for battered tech and US markets, but traders were struggling to draw a line under a global selloff that has now firmly taken root.
The pan-European STOXX 600 tumbled 1.5 percent in morning trading, on course for its fourth straight weekly drop, while US futures were pointing to more crimson screens on Wall Street later too..
MSCI’s 50-country main world index is now down over 8.1 percent for the month, which will be its worst January since the 2008 global financial crisis year.
The dollar, meanwhile, is on track for its best week in seven months on bets that US interest rates could now go up as many as five times this year.
“With the Federal Reserve sounding a lot more hawkish, it has shaken the markets,” said Jeremy Gatto, a multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion in Switzerland.
“Markets can live with rate hikes, but the main question remains around the balance sheet,” he added. Markets have been driven up by all the stimulus pumped in during the COVID-19 crisis, “so if it starts reducing liquidity, that changes the game.”
The Fed indicated this week that it is likely to raise rates in March, as widely expected, and reaffirmed plans to end its pandemic-era bond purchases that month before launching a significant reduction in its asset holdings.
The prospect of faster or larger US interest rate hikes, and possible stimulus withdrawal, lifted the dollar to a 20-month high of $1.1119 per euro and to 115.50 yen — close to a high of year so far of 116.35 yen.
In the big government bond markets that drive global borrowing costs, benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields rose to 1.84 percent compared with their US close of 1.80 percent on Thursday. The two-year yield, which is even more sensitive to rate hike expectations, touched 1.22 percent, having started the year at roughly 0.75 percent.
European bond yields also rose further. Germany’s 10-year yield, the benchmark for the euro zone, was up over half a bp to -0.02 percent although still not quite able to break through the zero threshold.
Focus was also on Italy, where bond yields were back up around 4 bps after a late afternoon rally on Thursday while its parliament struggled to elect a new president.

OIL PRESSURE
Oil prices remained strong, set for their sixth weekly gain, amid concerns of tight supplies as major producers continue their policy of limited output increases amid rising fuel demand.
Brent crude futures climbed 57 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $89.91 a barrel, just shy of the $91.04 hit earlier in the week that was the highest level since October 2014.
A sixth week of gains will also mark the longest weekly winning streak for Brent since October last year, when Brent prices climbed for seven weeks while US WTI gained for nine.
This year, prices have risen about 15 percent amid geopolitical tensions between Russia, the world’s second-largest oil producer and a key natural gas provider to Europe, and the West over Ukraine, as well as threats to the United Arab Emirates from Yemen’s Houthi movement that have raised concerns about energy supply.
“Where Brent crosses the $90 level, we see some selling from a sense of accomplishment, but investors start buying again when the prices fall a little as they remain cautious about possible supply disruptions due to rising geopolitical tensions,” said Tatsufumi Okoshi, senior economist at Nomura Securities.
“The market expects supply will stay tight as the OPEC+ is seen to keep the existing policy of gradual increase in production,” he said.
The market is focusing on a Feb. 2 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+. It is likely to stick with a planned rise in its oil output target for March, several sources in the group told Reuters.


Schlumberger to roll out valves production line in Saudi Arabia as Aramco relationship deepens

Schlumberger to roll out valves production line in Saudi Arabia as Aramco relationship deepens
Updated 42 min 20 sec ago

Schlumberger to roll out valves production line in Saudi Arabia as Aramco relationship deepens

Schlumberger to roll out valves production line in Saudi Arabia as Aramco relationship deepens

US oilfield services company Schlumberger will open a valves production facility at King Salman Energy Park, also known as SPARK, on Jan. 31 through its subsidiary company, Cameron.

The firm already produces some of its materials in Saudi Arabia, including downhole tools, drilling chemicals, screens and valves. 

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the In Kingdom Total Value Add forum held in Dhahran, Schlumberger’s managing director in Saudi Arabia, Ziad Jeha, talked up the importance of Cameron’s relationship with Saudi Aramco.

“This is again a product that is used by Saudi Aramco, namely in facilities and other process systems, and these valves range from two inch up to 42 inches and go up to 40 tons in weight,” said Jeha.

During the forum, Schlumberger was recognised as the best service provider working for Saudi Aramco.

“This is the second ‘Best iktva Overall Award’ that we have got. The first one we got was in 2017, and this a milestone that we will be very much keeping in our mind,” said Jeha.

The oil field service company is also involved in the Jafura gas field project launched by Aramco last November, located in the eastern part of the Kingdom.

Schlumberger delivered a record number of stages in December using local expertise, he said.

During the forum, Schlumberger signed an initial agreement with Aramco in regards to sustainability and reducing carbon footprint. 

The Houston-based company, announced in May 2021 its commitment to net zero by 2050.

“It is something that we are committed to and we are going to continue towards net zero by deploying new technologies, and ensuring that we contribute as part of our ESG and social responsibilities,” he said.