May 26, 2024

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Saudi Arabia: Plans change for massive Neom construction project

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“line”Only 2.4 kilometers long: Is Saudi Arabia's construction project a failure?

The “city of the future” to be built in Saudi Arabia is still far from a city and its ambitions are being scaled back.

Samira Kunz
Van

When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled his vision for the future, the plans looked like this.

20 min

  • In 2017, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced a major construction project.

  • Neom is supposed to be the city of the future and will be home to 1.5 million people by 2030.

  • Now ambitions seem scaled back.

Saudi Arabia has scaled back medium-term ambitions for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's mega-project, Neomin Desert Development.

Neom is a large-scale development and settlement project in Saudi Arabia, to be developed as a “city of the future”. It covers an area of ​​about 26,500 square kilometers (about half the size of Switzerland) and includes parts of the northwestern regions of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea coast and the Gulf of Aqaba. The project was announced by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 and is part of his Vision 2030 initiative aimed at diversifying and modernizing the country's economy.

The project has been controversial due to human rights violations and environmental pollution. Saudi Arabia denies that people died at the construction site and maintains that the project is in line with sustainability targets and environmental protection.

By 2030, the government hoped 1.5 million people would live in “The Line,” a sprawling, futuristic city housed in a pair of glass skyscrapers. Officials now estimate that fewer than 300,000 people will live on The Line at this point, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Officials have long said the route would be built in phases, and they expect it to eventually cover 170 kilometers of desert along the coast. However, with the latest setback, officials expect only 2.4 kilometers of projects to be completed by 2030.

At least one construction company has begun laying off some of its on-site employees, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. Representatives of Neom and the Kingdom's Public Investment Fund, which primarily owns and finances the project, declined to comment.

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