According to one of the leaders of the ambitious Saudi NEOM project, the Saudi Arabian government is likely to add to its initial commitment of USD500 billion. The giga-development in Saudi Arabia’s Northwest region spans 26,500 square kilometers.
Head of the projects’ tourism sector, Andrew McEvoy, stated that the ambition surrounding the project meant that it was extremely likely to receive additional funds. The project was first announced in 2017.
He further added that there was genuine investor interest in the project, which is touted to become the center of the universe, with reference to new projects going forward.
In an interview held at the Arabian Travel Market this week, McEvoy said that in addition to intense interest from Saudi investors, global investors too are interested in the giga-project.
McEvoy additionally mentioned that while Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was doing most of the initial investment, it was likely that the commitment could be complemented and even offset by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Until now, the company has announced Oxagon, a port and industrial project, The Line, which is a futuristic city, and most significantly, Trojena – The first outdoor ski field in the Middle East – on Jebel Al Lawz.
Set to receive its first tourists in 2024, NEOM will be visually spectacular, with contributions from set designers, architects and other professionals from the creative industry. Guests will be due to arrive at an as-yet-unnamed Red Sea resort.
The project aims to make 30 hotels available by 2026, along with a target of 45,000 rooms by 2030. The project also aims to employ 70,000 people in the tourism sector.
Development of Saudi Arabia giga project may take 50 years
McEvoy mentioned that the development of NEOM is likely to continue for the next 50 years, although completion targets have been set for both 2030 and 2040.
While mentioning that tourism will be among the top three of fourteen sectors contributing to the economy, McEvoy said that consumer spending will be the number one. He also added that the project was aiming to attract more innovative investors from around the world.
In a statement, McEvoy said that the main countries at the hotbed for innovation are Estonia, Australia, Singapore and India. He also said that stakeholders of the project would be taking the message to more financial centers around the world, in an effort to gain innovative investor interest in the project.
Akin to it’s fellow Saudi giga project – The Red Sea Project – NEOM promises visitors that it will not just offset carbon emission levels, but will actually be carbon negative, said McEvoy.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has decreed that 95 percent of NEOM’s land will remain undeveloped, and instead be regenerated, with forests and water bodies restored, and rewilding projects designed to return it to its natural state. Hunting and fishing have also been banned from the project.
Renewable energy, like wind and solar, will be utilized, in addition to a policy of no streets and no cars for The Line city project. The Line will have electric autonomous vehicles and scooters as transport options for the city.
The environmental commitment from NEOM will ensure that it will not follow the developmental examples of either Dubai or Singapore, which have often been touted as super fast development success stories.
In the same statement, McEvoy mentioned that NEOM’s focus will be on adventure tourism, which enjoyed a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13 percent prior to the onset of the pandemic, as well as wildlife observation and scuba diving in the coral reefs surrounding the Red Sea coast.
He further added that the project would aim to thrive environmentally, socially and economically, with jobs being provided for locals. Adding that it would be a difficult task, he maintained that the Project would aim for that target.