Neom, the visionary urban project spearheaded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its northwestern Tabuk Province, is poised to redefine the future of urban living. Launched in 2017 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Neom spans an expansive 26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi) area and boasts an array of innovative features, from a floating industrial complex to a bustling global trade hub. This article delves into the key facets of Neom’s development, its ambitious plans, and the controversies that have marked its journey.
Origins and Vision
Rooted in the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative, Neom aims to diminish the nation’s reliance on oil, diversify its economy, and cultivate public-service sectors. Crown Prince Salman, in unveiling Neom at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh in 2017, outlined its independence from existing governmental frameworks, complete with its tax laws and an autonomous judicial system.
The first phase of Neom, slated for completion by 2025, encompasses Neom Bay. This development includes the Neom Bay Airport, a pivotal component connecting Riyadh and Neom. Additionally, Oxagon, a floating industrial complex shaped like an octagon, aims to be a global trade focal point, boasting features like a desalination plant, a hydrogen plant, and an oceanographic research center.
Trojena: A Winter Oasis
The Trojena project, launched in March 2022, introduces a major skiing destination in the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the Sarat Mountains, this outdoor paradise, despite its desert setting, promises a cooler climate. Zaha Hadid Architects have envisioned a stunning skyscraper overlooking an artificial lake, adding a touch of architectural brilliance to Trojena.
Sindalah: Luxury Redefined
Neom’s foray into luxury continues with Sindalah, a 1,100,000-cubic-yard resort complex featuring an 86-berth marina, three luxury hotels, and a nine-hole golf course. With plans for accommodating up to 2,400 visitors daily, Sindalah epitomizes Neom’s commitment to upscale tourism.
Agriculture and Utilities
Neom’s commitment to sustainability extends to agriculture, with plans for 6,500 hectares (16,000 acres) of surrounding land designated for agricultural fields relying heavily on genetically engineered crops. The subsidiary Enowa has been established to provide renewable energy, green hydrogen, and zero-waste desalination, aligning with Neom’s eco-friendly ethos.
Neom’s global footprint is evident in its partnerships. From sponsoring Formula E teams to hosting Extreme E events, Neom is making strides in the realms of motorsports and renewable energy. Additionally, collaborations with companies like Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. and Larsen & Toubro underscore Neom’s commitment to cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices.
2029 Asian Winter Games Controversy
While Neom secures its position as the host for the 2029 Asian Winter Games, criticism surfaces regarding potential adverse environmental impacts. Concerns range from high temperatures in the desert to energy consumption and the diversion of local water resources. The geopolitical motivations behind this move have also come under scrutiny.
In 2022, reports emerged about an abusive work culture within Neom, with CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr facing allegations of belittling expatriates and fostering a toxic work environment. Despite resignations and criticism, Neom issued statements defending its management culture, emphasizing its scale and ambition.
The Surveillance Debate
Neom’s ambitious project, “The Line,” incorporates data as currency for managing various facets of city life. However, concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and use of surveillance technology have raised ethical questions about the extent of data collection and privacy.
Criticisms and Unfulfilled Visions
Neom has faced backlash for its sponsorship deals, notably with the League of Legends European Championship, due to concerns about human rights abuses by the Saudi government. Furthermore, Salman’s vision, encompassing futuristic elements like flying cars and dinosaur robots, has faced skepticism.
Note: The article aims to provide an overview of Neom’s key developments, controversies, and future outlook. For a more detailed understanding, readers are encouraged to explore official Neom sources and reputable news outlets.
Image and Information Source : Neom official Website. neom.com