Neom (styled NEOM; Arabic: نيوم Niyōm) is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is planned to incorporate smart city technologies and also function as a tourist destination. The site is near the Red Sea and the borders of Egypt, Israel and Jordan (However, Saudi Arabia has no land border with Egypt and Israel). It will cover a total area of 26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi) and will extend 460 km along the coast of the Red Sea.
Neom City Logo
|Announced||24 October 2017|
|Founded by||Muhammad bin Salman|
|Seat||House of Saud|
|• Director||Nadhmi Al-Nasr|
|• Total||26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+03 (Arabian Standard Time)|
Saudi Arabia aims to complete the first section of NEOM by 2025. The project has an estimated cost of $500 billion. On January 29, 2019, Saudi Arabia has announced setting up a closed joint-stock company named NEOM with $500 billion. The aim of this company that is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund, is to develop the economic zone of Neom. The project is planned to be totally powered by renewable energy sources. Nadhmi Al-Nasr is the CEO of NEOM Joint-stock company.
Inauguration of the projectEdit
The city was announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 24, 2017. He said it will operate independently from the “existing governmental framework” with its own tax and labor laws and an "autonomous judicial system."
The initiative emerged from Saudi Vision 2030, a plan that seeks to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors. Plans call for robots to perform functions such as security, logistics, home delivery, and caregiving and for the city to be powered solely with wind and solar power. Because the city will be designed and constructed from scratch, other innovations in infrastructure and mobility have been suggested. Planning and construction will be initiated with $500 billion from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and international investors. The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion by 2025.
The name "Neom" was constructed from two words. The first three letters form the Ancient Greek prefix nέο neo- meaning “new”. The fourth letter is from the abbreviation of Mostaqbal (Arabic: مستقبل), the Arabic word for “future.”
The NEOM project is located in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia in the northwest of the kingdom, extended along with Aqaba Gulf and 468 km of coastline with beaches and coral reefs, as well as mountains up to 2,500 m high, with a total area of around 26,500 sq. km.
Some of the illustrations for the Neom project were taken from the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, leaving commentators to note: "using an actual shot of Singapore to depict an upcoming construction project in Saudi Arabia is an odd choice."
Klaus Kleinfeld was announced as the inaugural director for the Neom project upon its launch by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman on 24 October 2017. In 2018, Kleinfeld signed Gladstone Place Partners LLC for "Communications Services" for the Neom project, for a fee of USD $199,500 plus expenses of USD $45,000.
The development works of the project’s first phase Neom Bay was planned to start in the first quarter of 2019 and be completed by 2020. The developments were to include constructing the airport at Sharma which would operate regular commercial flights between Riyadh and Neom. The plan of Neom Bay's developments also involves building the first residential area in Neom as part of phase 1.
NEOM Bay AirportEdit
In June 2019, it was announced that the NEOM Bay Airport would start to receive commercial flights after the first phase of the airport was completed with runway's length of 3,757 meters. The airport that is planned to be located at Neom Bay has been registered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the code 'NUM'.
In late 2018, after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman admitted that "No one will invest [in the project] for years." Advisers to Neom, including Daniel L. Doctoroff and architect Norman Foster, were reported to have distanced themselves from the project and the "toxic" Saudi crown prince. Also, the scope of the projects based on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince's vision incorporates some technologies that don’t even exist yet, like flying cars, robot maids, dinosaur robots, and a giant artificial moon. It is estimated that 20,000 people will be forced to relocate to accommodate the planned city.
On 13 April 2020 Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti posted videos online announcing that Saudi security forces were trying to evict him and other members of the tribe from their historic homeland to make way for the development of Neom. Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti, a Saudi human rights activist from the same tribe circulated the videos. In the videos Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti said he would defy the eviction orders though he expected Saudi authorities would plant weapons in his house to incriminate him.
He was later killed by Saudi security forces, who claimed he had opened fire on them. This version of events was disputed by Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti who said that he didn't own firearms. His funeral was held near the village of al-Khoraibah and was well attended despite the presence of Saudi security forces.
Eight cousins of Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti have been arrested for protesting against the eviction order but Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti said that she and human rights activists in the west hoped to challenge the arrests. The tribe are not opposed to the development of Neom but do not want to be evicted from their traditional homeland.
In June 2020, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman hired a US public relations and lobbying firm to counter the criticism and controversies around the Neom city project. The country signed a contract worth $1.7 million with the PR company Ruder Finn, amidst the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
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