October 25, 2017

Saudi Arabia wants to build a $500B “startup city”

Yesterday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced an ambitious plan to construct a $500B mega-city called NEOM by 2025.

Yesterday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced an ambitious plan to construct a $500B mega-city called NEOM by 2025.

The proposed 10,230-mile city would span 3 countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan), run entirely on renewable energy sources, and serve as a “hub of cutting edge research and technology.”   

In the prince’s words, it will be “a place for the dreamers of the world.”

What exactly does that mean?

NEOM is a part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan — a larger initiative aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on oil by branching into new economic sectors, like energy, water, biotech, and media.

The city will operate on 6 core principles, defined as these ‘Futuristic Concepts’:

  • Make human beings a top priority (AKA freedom of speech and expression)
  • Build the “next generation” of transportation (AKA have bike lanes)
  • Full automation of government services (AKA no more long lines for basic services)
  • Digitization of everything (AKA free internet and online education)
  • Sustainability (AKA 100% renewable energy sources)
  • Construction innovation (AKA crazy awesome buildings)

The bill will be footed by the Saudi government, and a range of private and public investors, including Softbank founder Masayoshi Son.

The big pic

The prince has stated that he hopes to shift toward a more “moderate Islam,” and the ideals of NEOM signify not just big economic shifts but a broader push toward more progressive cultural norms.

As for how this unimaginable undertaking will actually play out, time will tell.

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