A Glimpse Into the Future: Saudi Arabia’s NEOM

By Momal Khan

A city without cars, conventional streets, and carbon emissions: just miles and miles of pink sand with towering mountain ranges and technology embedded beneath the surface to serve your every need. Sound like utopia? 

Saudi Arabia has announced plans for a $500 billion mega-development in its northwest region called ‘NEOM’. The city’s futuristic development plan includes the building of residential and commercial units, resorts, huge multi-purpose facilities, as well as some conventional infrastructure like airports and power plants. NEOM is set to be completed by 2025. 

The city will be built in the Tabuk province, and is expected to cover 26,496 square kilometers- the entire Greater Toronto Area is a mere 7,124 square kilometers in comparison.  

Since his announcement about the plans for development in 2017, The Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made it clear that NEOM will be more than just an ultra-modern city for luxury living; it is also being positioned as an incubator for some of the world’s most cutting-edge technologies and innovations, with sustainability as a foundation for it all. 

According to an official press release by NEOM, the city will be ‘an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a New Future might look like’. A hub for innovation, NEOM will allow entrepreneurs, leaders and companies from around the world to come together to research and commercialize groundbreaking technologies and enterprises in innovative yet sustainable ways.

“NEOM will not only be a destination, but a home for people who dream big and who want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living,” states the official website.

One of the steps the Kingdom is taking to further the sustainability initiative tied to the project is the building of a $5 billion power plant that will be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. According to NEOM’s newsletter, this will save up to 3 Million Tons of CO2 emissions every year – roughly equivalent to the emissions of about 700,000 cars. 

The hydrogen power plant will be the first of many steps taken to industrialize NEOM, creating numerous jobs and further contributing to the Kingdom’s economic development. This ‘green hydrogen’ will be used to fuel multiple forms of transportation, including a hyperloop-esque pathway around the city. Plans have already been announced to include a 170-kilometre long car-free, zero-carbon region within NEOM called ‘The Line’, which itself will have the capacity to house 1 million residents and generate upwards of 380,000 jobs by 2030.

It will be nothing short of fascinating to see this monumental transition of the world’s biggest crude exporter to a supplier of non-polluting, renewable energy.  

Photo by Kristina Delp on Unsplash

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