Arab countries from Europeans and Americans in the construction of a technological oasis on our planet. There is hardly any resident on Earth who has access to the Internet and has never heard of the wonders of Dubai – the largest city of the UAE. Equally pleasing are the unique structures of the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. But the Saudis decided to surpass all and began the construction of the metropolis NEOM (Arabic: نيوم ) which, by the number of announced ultra-technological solutions, resembles a preview of a fantastic film rather than an actual project for a city.
Universal robotics, artificial intelligence, and flying cars are just crumbs compared to all the promised miracles that are approaching with each new day. Let’s take a closer look at the futuristic NEOM, which will embody the wonders and dreams worthy of comparison to the fairy tales “One Thousand and One Nights.”
The rulers of many rich Arab countries, who owe their well-being to oil or gas hidden in the Earth’s bowels, have realized in time that any natural resources are exhaustible, but the flow of tourists and investors is really limitless. This was among the first trends to be felt in the UAE and Qatar.
Such ideals have been considered by wise rulers of the largest state on the peninsula of Saudi Arabia as well, making the decision to reduce the role of the oil industry to place focus on the future prosperity of their people. They began intensively developing the kingdom’s tourism infrastructure, paving the way for a multi-million dollar army of pilgrims, expats and adventure seekers.
The real pioneer, who decided to radically change the foundations of the society, was the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom the Saudis have taken a path of integration into a more international society, creating conditions for cultural and intellectual exchange with other countries. On his initiative, the government program VISION 2030 was established, aiming to turn the state into a powerful research and tourism center in the decades to come, and attracting the attention of investors, scientists, and talented people from all over the world.
The main focus that should contribute to the implementation of this program is the futuristic metropolis NEOM, in the creation of which is planned to invest a mind-blowing sum of $500 billion in the initial, seed investment alone, comparable to the budget of a separate state. It will occupy 26.5 thousand square kilometers of desert, which will be transformed into a real oasis. The next five years should fill NEOM with scientific centers and technological wonders that now cannot even be dreamed of. All this will attract the most talented inventors and scientists from all over the world to the metropolis.
The Saudis predict that the city will embody bold scientific and technological solutions and management strategies. It will turn into a real oasis, making it possible to achieve all the innovative ideas of which modern society has only scratched the surface. NEOM is the future home for pioneers and dreamers who are cramped in countries full of conventions and prohibitions. A striking example is the genetic engineering of humans, which plans to become legal in this project.
Metropolis NEOM will combine enterprises, port zones, residential areas, and research institutions, as well as an advanced tourism infrastructure that meets the highest international quality standards. Millions of people from all over the world will find their home here. The multinationality of the project is emphasized even by its very name, which combines both Western and Eastern roots.
The first part of the word is the ancient Greek “neo”, which means “new”. The fourth letter is the beginning of the Arabic word mostakbal (Arabic: مستقبل), meaning “future”. Thus, the meaning of the word NEOM is quite clear – a new future that Saudi Arabia plans to present to its own people and the whole world.
The project plans to develop 16 main areas that cover the fundamental areas of activity. Let’s consider them one by one.
1. Renewable energy
If the inhabitants of the metropolis learn to take full advantage of the potentials of renewable energy sources, abandoning the usage of fossil fuels, they will be able to escape from oil dependency. The area will consist of nearly 100% renewable natural energy sources, including wind farms and solar power plants, for which all the necessary conditions are available in the desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula.
Sustainable development and full energy independence is the project’s top priority. Neom is expected to become the world’s foremost energy hub, attracting multibillion-dollar investments in cutting-edge engineering. Words like smart energy, smart electricity, or smart weather will no longer be just meaningless phrases for the inhabitants of this metropolis.
2. Innovation in water recycling
Once in the desert, you start to really appreciate water. If you were born on these lands, then you absorb the respect for H2O literally with your mother’s milk. NEOM aims to be at the forefront of the recycling and storage of water suitable for human consumption. Moreover, this resource must be of high quality, literally raising the bar in the field of drinking water production. One example is cloud seeding technology, the use of which will bring long-awaited rains to desert lands.
3. Infrastructure optimization
The favorable geographic location of the NEOM metropolis contributes to the fact that 40% of the world’s inhabitants can get here in less than 4 hours, and 70% in less than 8 hours. Optimization of logistics will greatly simplify passenger and cargo transportation, which will help trade and tourism flourish.
The Saudis plan to make NEOM PORT the safest and most technologically advanced port area not only in the Middle East but in the world. One of the innovative solutions is the idea of launching unmanned urban transport, complemented by flying taxis.
4. Biotechnological revolution
The organizers of the NEOM project are announcing the creation of new varieties of plants and animal breeds, and even changes in the human genome, to attract genetic scientists from all over the world. Since the ban on human genetic modernization is widespread in most countries of the world, NEOM, like a magnet, is attracting the attention of pioneering scientists and enthusiasts from around the world, providing an opening in the not-too-distant future to bring their bold ideas to fruition in unprecedented experiments.
5. Modernization of the food industry
In most parts of the world, food production has long been harmful to the environment. Knowing this, the Saudis expect to introduce technological innovations that should reduce the negative impact of the food industry on the environment and human health. The Neomeans will receive only high-quality food, the production of which will not harm the surrounding nature and population of the metropolis.
6. Production improvement
The introduction of new methods and materials helps to master progressive technologies which aim to shift production away from other, extensive methods. In the NEOM project, universal robotization, nanotechnology, and the use of artificial intelligence will become commonplace. In addition to scientific and technological progress, the production facilities of this futuristic city will work in harmony with the surrounding world, taking care of nature as carefully as possible. Environmentally friendly technologies will become an indispensable quality standard in Saudi Arabia.
7. Development of the media industry
The focus on young, ambitious, and talented journalists, bloggers, and vloggers will turn NEOM into a cradle of content creation and promotion, allowing innovative people to produce world-class media products. The growing attention of the world community to the metropolis will attract additional investments and increase the flow of tourists and ex-pats.
8. Popularization of entertainment, culture and fashion
The Saudis place great emphasis on the recreation and cultural development of their citizens and future residents of the NEOM project, wanting to provide them with a wide variety of emotions and pleasure. This is not surprising, because for many years the country has lived according to the harsh canons of Sharia, which have not greatly contributed to attracting tourists.
Certain compromises that the Saudi Arabian authorities agreed to make have opened opportunities for additional attraction of financial flows to the local economy. The scale of the plans are made evident by one of the anticipated projects – “Jurassic Park”, which will be inhabited by animatronic dinosaurs.
9. Widespread digitalization
In the futuristic metropolis NEOM, the line between the virtual and real world will be erased. Neural networks augmented reality, built-in interfaces and total digitalization await every guest of this world capital of digital innovation. Inventors, investors, and global corporations will be able to embody the most daring technological solutions. An over-ambitious project, an artificial moon in the night sky, will consist of an armada of synchronized drones.
10. Tourism infrastructure development
The beautiful surrounding nature combined with the national culture of the locals and scientific and technical wonders will undoubtedly attract millions of tourists, for whom a well-developed Neomean infrastructure will be prepared. They will fill the local budget, thus opening up opportunities for ambitious plans for VISION 2030. For example, glow in the dark sand along the entire coastline of the Red Sea will make local resorts even more magical and unforgettable.
All this has been included in the general strategy for the development of the tourism potential of Saudi Arabia. In addition to the future metropolis, plans exist to form other large-scale projects here, including Amaala and the Red Sea Development project, which claims to be the Riviera of the Middle East.
11. Sports cultivation
Regardless of the level of technological development, sports and exercise are essential for any society. The authors of the metropolis NEOM are making a huge bet on popularizing sports in the region. For this, it is planned to open a network of free sports zones in highly visited public spaces, for example, in parks and on beaches. Taking into account digitalization, various e-sports will also be widely available.
12. Innovation in architecture and design
All buildings in the NEOM metropolis will be constructed using modern materials and advanced technologies that increase the safety and durability of buildings. The super-city will become an ecosystem in which industrial and residential buildings, as well as entertainment and business centers, will harmoniously blend into the natural environment.
According to Mark Hallum, Executive Director of Industrialization and Innovation of NEOM Industrial City, “NEOM’s mission is to play a key and vital role in addressing sustainability challenges throughout the entire process, from innovation to product development. It’s three main philosophical principles are REUSE, RECYCLE, REDUCE. The goal is to make NEOM a global hub for sustainable fashion that doesn’t exist in the modern world. “
13. Service and maintenance of the highest level
New quality standards and robotization will raise service to a higher level, that would overshadow the standards in modern developed countries. Sales robots, police officers, cleaners, doctors, as well as emergency and first responders will serve NEOM residents at any time of the day, always doing their job with high quality and punctuality.
According to Anita Mendiratta, Strategic Sustainability Advisor, “Robotics and automatization are key issues for the NEOM project, which aims to build a sustainable development strategy around three pillars – exceptional vitality, thriving business and redefined conservation.”
14. Healing the nation
The Saudi government has a stake in the well-being of its citizens. To do this, the NEOM project will apply the achievements of genetics, pharmacology, as well as centuries of experience in longevity, including balanced nutrition and various psychophysical practices.
According to Malihi Hashmi, Executive Director of NEOM’s two sectors related to health and biotechnology, it can be concluded that the metropolis will become a leading global center for health and well-being, focusing on active prevention, healthy lifestyles and the most innovative therapies. All of this will be achieved using cutting-edge technology, research and education.
This will give the global community of medical experts and researchers the opportunity to create new regulations without the worry of conventional rules that exist in the world today. One example of the progressive methods of Neomean health care is a digital twin of every inhabitant, which will help to personalize the prevention and diagnosis of diseases, as well as aid in their treatment.
15. New trends in education
The residents of NEOM will respect knowledge, because the well-being of this project will depend on them. Everyone will be able to develop and improve at their own discretion, developing professional and personal skills.
Moreover, they will be able to study in the best colleges and universities in the world. A network of educational institutions will also be built in the metropolis itself. The system of interactive, personalized, and integrated human development will be popular.
16. Improving living conditions
All the previous points are aimed at improving the living standards of citizens and guests of the NEOM metropolis, who will be able to maximize their potential and opportunities, finding a balance between work and leisure. A progressive system of public administration, in addition to social and economic innovation will ensure high social standards, attracting even more talented people.
The project has already started. In the vicinity of the future metropolis, a super-airport NEOM-BAY has been erected, with 5G support. The tourism infrastructure is being developed to attract the city’s first tourists. Negotiations are underway with potential investors, thanks to which NEOM will be able to realize all the declared miracles. The rest of the world must wait for the implementation of this promising project, meanwhile considering the futuristic metropolis from the standpoint of tourism, work or a new home.