Following the October 2017 unveiling of NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s $500-billion futuristic city billed as a “startup the size of a country,” details of the project's progression have been scarce. Situated close to the border with Jordan and the Red Sea, the remote area has been sealed off to visitors, leaving onlookers to speculate with minimal details, such as the announcement by Japan’s Softbank that they were investing in the megacity.
However, news carried by Reuters suggests that the project may be far more advanced than originally expected, reporting that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has arrived in NEOM for a holiday. The news marks a break in tradition from the King’s holiday choices, typically a villa in Morocco or the South of France. Reuters also detail a design document revealed to them offering the first descriptions of what the architecture of NEOM may contain.
NEOM is envisioned as a 10,200-square-mile (26,500-square-kilometer) center for technology and business, fully powered by renewable energy. While serving as a hub for innovation in biotechnology, food, and advanced manufacturing, the megacity is also intended to be a luxury lifestyle community with “glittering marinas,” “record-breaking theme parks,” “endless parkland,” and “the world’s largest garden.”
Following the October 2017 announcement, no concrete business ventures or design concepts have been revealed. However, news of King Salman’s holiday adds credence to information provided to Reuters in February that local construction companies had been asked by the Saudi government to build five royal palaces on the site.
A design document also seen by Reuters is reported to showcase “opulent buildings with modern and traditional Moroccan-style architecture featuring Islamic designs and colorful ceramic tiles” with amenities such as helipads, a marina, and a golf course.
NEOM is one of a number of projects undertaken by the Saudi government to diversify its oil-dependent economy, including the King Abdullah Economic City, pictured above, which has been in development for over ten years.
The first stage of NEOM is expected to be completed in 2025.
News via: Reuters