Image courtesy: SPA
Construction of NEOM Bay, the first urban area within the $500bn mega NEOM development in Saudi Arabia will begin in the first quarter of this year, officials announced on Wednesday.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the chairman of the NEOM board, approved the strategic concept of the masterplan for NEOM Bay, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
NEOM’s board has given instructions “to complete preparations and start construction work in the first quarter of 2019”, the report said.
A number of key facilities will be completed by the end of this year including the current airport at Sharma, which will be upgraded to become a commercial airport operating regular flights between Riyadh and NEOM.
The work on the first phase of NEOM Bay will be completed in 2020, the report added.
NEOM was first unveiled by Prince Mohamed at a Public Investment Fund (PIF) conference in October 2017.
Spanning 26,500sqm, it will act as a technology hub, job creator and centre for foreign investment and is key component of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 agenda to diversify away from oil.
It is intended to be “an oasis of stunning cliffs, sandy beaches and high-tech projects powered by wind and solar energy where robots outnumber humans and a cosmopolitan lifestyle offers sports, concerts and fine dining”, it was announced at the time of launch.
In October, Prince Mohammed said the NEOM business zone will build two to three towns each year starting in 2020 and be fully complete by 2025.
Currently the only structures in NEOM are believed to be part of a palace complex built for monarch King Salman.
The first project, NEOM Bay, will offer “next-generation technologies in mobility and create an intelligent urban ecosystem with advanced infrastructure”, the statement said, without elaborating.
It is also designed to be an eco-friendly project, with energy set to be generated from renewable sources. “The unique environmental characteristics of the region will be preserved, and the unique ecosystem will be protected and improved,” the report said.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM said: “The year 2019 will be a milestone in NEOM’s journey. We are now preparing for the development of NEOM Bay area, which will provide a new concept of urban living that will enable it to become a platform for attracting the world’s top minds for creating advanced economic sectors.
“The strategy of developing NEOM Bay will rely on four key pillars that will be ingrained in the entire project development.
“The first is to provide a living experience and an ideal quality of life for families; the second is to create a high-end lifestyle and a luxurious tourist destination; the third and fourth pillars are to support both innovation and creative centres in order to achieve NEOM’s economic goals,” he added.