RIYAD: NEOM, the $ 500 billion (SR 1.9 trillion) crown of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plans, has taken several steps forward this year with the announcement of two major projects and the announcement that the region could welcome its first visitors in 2024.

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

The futuristic car-free region will be managed by cutting-edge technologies such as human-machine fusion, artificial and predictive intelligence, and robotics. Over a million people will live in the region, which will also host sporting, cultural, scientific and tourist attractions.

The region is the flagship giga-project of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plans, aimed at diversifying its oil economy, easing social customs and stimulating investment.

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

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

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

Major earthworks and tunneling through the mountains have already started in the region, home to 1,500 people, NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr told Bloomberg TV in October.

He said, “It’s a huge business. Today, if you go to NEOM, you will see constructions everywhere, you will see earthworks everywhere, you will see areas that are developing.

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

The project is expected to create 380,000 jobs and contribute SR 180 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030.

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

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

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

Today, if you go to NEOM, you will see constructions everywhere, you will see earthworks everywhere, you will see areas that are developing.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM

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

It has been a busy year for NEOM. Here are its strengths:

April – NEOM entrusted the American engineering firm Parsons Corporation with a management consulting role within OXAGON.

April – NEOM also announced that it will develop a plant to build up to 10,000 utility vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells per year. It has signed an agreement with the American company Hyzon Motors, which builds zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell utility vehicles, and the Saudi conglomerate Modern Industrial Investment Holding Group as part of the initiative.

June – NEOM signed an agreement with South Korean construction and project management company HanmiGlobal to manage administrative services on THE LINE, which include design, structure and execution.

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The futuristic car-free region will be managed by cutting-edge technologies such as human-machine fusion, artificial and predictive intelligence, and robotics. Over a million people will live in the region, which 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 on Shusha Island in the Red Sea region near the megalopolis. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2025, covers 100 hectares on the island of Shusha, by the Red Sea, and aims to make the region a global center for the protection and restoration of coral reefs.

July – NEOM company received prequalifications for tunnel works for operation from China Railway Construction Corp.

September – NEOM launches a call for tenders for the construction of 31 km of tunnels. This project is part of the backbone of THE LINE’s infrastructure and the deadline for tenders is December 30, according to GlobalData’s MEED.

October – NEOM announced that tech company Oracle will be the first tenant of its large-scale data center in the mega-city. The data center will be based at the meeting point between land and submarine cables, enabling it to provide customers with fast and reliable connectivity.

November – The Crown Prince announced the launch of OXAGON, an eight-sided floating city, which will become the largest floating industrial complex in the world.