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NEOM: The Future Destination:

NEOM: The Future Destination:

The main paper was presented by Dr. Ihsan Bu Haleeqa, commented on by Eng. Osama Kurdi and Mr. Muhammad Al-Dandani, and the debate was moderated by Mr. Abdullah Al-Dhwaihi. The paper stressed that the Saudi Vision 2030 brought about what was missing in the previous five-year plans, which was aimed at diversifying sources of income. It set a timeline for achieving economic diversification. This means that there is full awareness now that the plans do not come true by themselves. Therefore, the announcement of the vision was followed by launching realization programs. The point here is to make the “Saudi Vision 2030” a tangible reality on the ground, through achieving a set of goals.

The paper added that NEOM is an investment project aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy by enriching its structure with new activities. Also, “NEOM” has already started to become a city that establishes a new civilization, where the number of robots supported by artificial intelligence exceeds the number of people. Under the umbrella of natural and artificial intelligence, NEOM will embrace an economic network: energy and water, transportation and mobility, biotechnology, food industries, technical and digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media production, entertainment and living with a high quality of life.

Commentators indicated that NEOM is one of the mega projects through which many of the Saudi Vision 2030’s goals are achieved. There is no doubt about what the city of NEOM can contribute as a source of income to the State; either through direct investment, taxes, and most importantly attracting investments that contribute to the Kingdom treasury through fees and taxes as well. The city also accommodates local and foreign labor force whose income will have a significant impact on the local economy. Also, NEOM is a first-class technical project, focusing on many of the technical aspects that the Kingdom needs.

The commentators stated that it is noticed that there was no special interest in the role of the Saudi private sector investments in the project, as all indicators refer to focusing on foreign investments in in NEOM.

 The contributions made on this paper indicated that NEOM would provide new investment opportunities in sectors that will be created from scratch. In addition, the investors in NEOM would benefit from natural resources such as wind and solar energy.

The contributors argued that NEOM would take decades. In other words, the entry of multiple economic activities will not take place if there is no effective global response. From an investment point of view, the safety valve is the foreign investments, and the investment by the Public Investment Fund is merely the seed.

Regarding on the extent of the possibility that the project will affect the businessmen, and agents of some companies that import the goods that will be produced in NEOM, the contributors emphasized that there would be no impact in the near and medium future, and the probability of the impact in the long term will be little. The reason is the nature of the product in City, as it is not as traditional.

Among the most important recommendations were the following:

  • Providing the climate and environment suitable for the success of investment in the project.
  • Attention to Saudi cadres and youth leaders.
  • Attention to local content as one of the most important measures for the success of NEOM projects.
  • Working hard to make NEOM a financial capital for investments, research and technology, whether in the field of discovery, production or services.
  • Working to establish a huge data center (database) to support global cloud computing as an investment tool.
  • Emphasizing the necessity of encouraging foreign investors to use the Kingdom’s natural resources mainly in the projects of NEOM.
  • Linking NEOM (King Salman Bridge) with Jeddah, through the industrial city of Yanbu, with the city of Wa’ad al-Shamal and Hazm Al-Jalameed by railways and highways.
  • Increasing the green sceneries and developing wildlife in the mountainous areas, and preserving the archaeological sites and investing them in tourism. Preserving the environment and the nature of the area from erosion, and to be open to the public.
  • A strong public relations agency shall be established to follow the project.

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