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Coordinates: 28°07′52″N 34°55′15″E / 28.131088°N 34.920757°E / 28.131088; 34.920757
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Neom is located in Saudi Arabia
Neom in Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 28°07′52″N 34°55′15″E / 28.131088°N 34.920757°E / 28.131088; 34.920757
CountrySaudi Arabia
Announced24 October 2017; 6 years ago (2017-10-24)
Founded byMohammed bin Salman
 • Lord MayorNadhmi Al-Nasr[1]
 • Total26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+03 (Arabian Standard Time)
Websitewww.neom.com Edit this at Wikidata

Neom (styled NEOM; Arabic: نيوم, romanizedNiyōm, Hejazi Arabic pronunciation: [nɪˈjo̞ːm]) is an urban area being built by Saudi Arabia in Tabuk. Launched in 2017 by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, the site is at the northern tip of the Red Sea, due east of Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba and south of Jordan. The total planned area of Neom is 26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi). Multiple regions are planned, including a floating industrial complex, global trade hub, tourist resorts and a linear city powered by renewable energy sources.[2]

Much of the city is hoped to be completed by 2039.[3] Some experts have expressed skepticism about the ambitions of the megaproject.[4] The project's estimated costs exceed $1.5 trillion.[5] On January 29, 2019, the Saudi government announced that it had established a closed joint-stock company named Neom.[6] The company is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund and is solely dedicated to developing the economic zone of Neom.[7] Saudi Arabia originally aimed to complete major parts of the project by 2020, with an expansion completed in 2025, but fell behind schedule.[8][9] By July 2022, only two buildings had been constructed, and most of the project area remained bare desert.[9] In 2024, the project was reported to have been substantially scaled back from its original plan, however this was denied by the Saudi Economic Minister, Faisal F. Alibrahim.[10]

Neom's construction has also been criticised for environmental and human rights violations, with expatriate employees describing abusive working conditions and members of the local Howeitat tribe protesting against their forced expulsion.[11][12] Around 20,000 people are expected to be forcibly relocated.[13] Members of the Howeitat tribe have been killed resisting evictions, including Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti who was killed by Saudi security forces under disputed circumstances.[14] Three other members of the tribe were also sentenced to death for resisting evictions.[15]



The name "Neom" is a portmanteau. The first three letters are the Ancient Greek prefix neo meaning "new". The fourth letter, M, is the first letter of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's name,[16] as well as the first letter of the Arabic word for "future" (Arabic: مستقبل, romanizedMustaqbal, Hejazi Arabic pronunciation: [mʊsˈtaɡbal]).[17][18]



Planned cities have existed in many epochs of human history; they can be found in ancient Greece, in ancient China, in the Spanish colonial cities of the 16th century as well as in the centres of many large cities in the USA today.

Salman announced plans for the city at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 24, 2017.[19] He said that it would operate independently from the “existing governmental framework” with its own tax and labour laws and an "autonomous judicial system."[20] Egypt announced in 2018 that it would contribute some land to the Neom project.[21]

Klaus Kleinfeld was announced by Salman as the inaugural director for the Neom project upon its launch.[22] In 2018, Kleinfeld signed Gladstone Place Partners LLC to handle communications services for the Neom project for a fee of $199,500 plus expenses of $45,000.[23][24] Kleinfeld was then announced as an advisor to bin Salman and Nadhmi Al-Nasr as the director of Neom.[22]

The initiative to create the city of Neom emerged from Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public-service sectors.[25] Plans call for robots to perform functions such as security, logistics, home delivery and caregiving[26] and for the city to be powered solely with wind and solar power.[20]

Planned regions


Full list

Name Announced Website
The Line 10 January 2021[27] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/theline
Oxagon 16 November 2021[28] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/oxagon
Trojena 3 March 2022[29] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/trojena
Sindalah 5 December 2022[30] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/sindalah
Magna regions[31]
Leyja 15 October 2023[32] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/leyja
Epicon 15 November 2023[33] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/epicon
Siranna 29 November 2023[34] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/siranna
Utamo 13 December 2023[35] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/utamo
Norlana 27 December 2023[36] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/norlana
Aquellum 10 January 2024[37] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/aquellum
Zardun 24 January 2024[38] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/zardun
Xaynor 7 February 2024[39] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/xaynor
Elanan 21 February 2024[40] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/elanan
Gidori 6 March 2024[41] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/gidori
Treyam 20 March 2024[42] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/treyam
Jaumur 8 May 2024[43] www.neom.com/en-us/regions/jaumur

The Line

The region between the Red Sea and Tabuk, a view from ISS (2013 photo)

In January 2021, the project unveiled plans for The Line, a linear city 170 kilometres (110 mi) long and 200 metres (660 ft) wide within the Neom area. The design for The Line was further modified in July 2022, scrapping the original idea for multiple buildings on a linear plan, instead combining the buildings into one continuous structure with an entirely glass mirror exterior.[44] The car-free city is planned to be large enough to house nine million residents within walkable communities, with all basic services within a five-minute walking distance.[2][45] In April 2024, the project's goal was modified again to be 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) long, representing a 98.6% reduction in its length. This scale back is likely due to the Saudi government's inability to attract foreign investments in the project and the nation's dependence on oil prices.[46]

Neom Bay

Coast and islands, Neom peninsula (middle)

The development work of the project's first phase, Neom Bay, was planned to start in the first quarter of 2019 with completion by 2020.[47][needs update] The developments were to include constructing the airport at Sharma, which would operate regular commercial flights between Riyadh and Neom.[48] The plan of Neom Bay's developments also involves building the first residential area in Neom as part of Phase 1.[49]

Neom Bay Airport


In June 2019, it was announced that the Neom Bay Airport would begin commercial flight traffic after the first phase of the airport was completed with a runway length of 3,757 m (12,326 ft).[50][51][52][needs update] The planned airport has been registered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the code NUM.[51]



Oxagon (originally named Neom Industrial City) was announced as a floating industrial complex in the shape of an octagon. Per the announcement, it will be located around 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of the town of Duba, and cover roughly 200–250 square kilometres (77–97 sq mi) of land, of which approximately 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi) forms the city.[53] Oxagon is designed to focus on manufacturing, industrial research and development, incorporating the former Duba port, which has been renamed the "port of Neom".[54][55] The plans for the complex include a desalination plant, a hydrogen plant and an oceanographic research center.[56] It will also be home to the cognitive multinational company Tonomus (originally NEOM Tech & Digital Company), which is the first subsidiary company to evolve from NEOM.[57]

On December 16, 2022, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones and Neom signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate collaboration and legislation in support of Neom's Future Factories Program.[58] As of January 2023, Neom has not provided any information regarding how the complex will remain afloat.



On 3 March 2022, the Trojena project was launched, which will potentially be the first major outdoor skiing destination in the Arabian Peninsula. The project's site is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the Gulf of Aqaba coast in the Sarat Mountains, with elevations ranging from 1,500–2,600 metres (4,900–8,500 ft). Although it is in the desert, the site's climate is considerably cooler than is the rest of Neom's territory.[59][60][61][62][63][64] Ennismore, a lifestyle and hospitality company, was announced as the inaugural partner with its brands 25hours Hotels and Morgans Originals.[65][66] In September 2023, Zaha Hadid Architects designed a 330 m (1,080 ft) tall skyscraper for Trojena which will stand on a mountain overlooking an artificial lake. Renders of the skyscraper, which will be connected to the lakeside development by a cable car, showed a crystalline structure made of numerous columns that narrow towards the peak.[67]



In December 2022, Neom announced plans for Sindalah, a 1,100,000-cubic-yard luxury resort complex off the city coast.[68] It is planned to have an 86-berth marina and three luxury hotels, and it could accommodate as many as 2,400 visitors daily.[69][68] A nine-hole golf course overlooking the sea was constructed in 2023.



In January 2024, Neom announced Aquellum, a "subterranean digitalized community of the future" that will "invert architectural principles to integrate with nature". Described as an "upside-down skyscraper", it will be dug into a 450m-high mountain, with access from an underwater square.[70]



Leyja is a planned tourist destination which is designed to support the Saudi Vision 2030 plan for a sustainable tourism industry. According to the Saudi Press Agency, 95 per cent of Leyja's land area will be preserved for natural space.[71] Leyja includes three Hotels which are the Adventure Hotel, designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Oasis Hotel, designed by Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA), and the Wellness Hotel, designed by Killa Design. The hotels will provide 120 boutique rooms and suites.[72]



Neom plans for 6,500 hectares (16,000 acres) of the surrounding land to become agricultural fields and to rely heavily on genetically engineered crops.[73][74]



A subsidiary, ENOWA, has been founded to provide renewable energy, green hydrogen, and zero waste desalination.[75][76]

International relations


In March 2020, Neom signed a partnership deal as a principal partner with Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team.[77] In June 2022, Neom became the title sponsor of McLaren Racing's electric motorsport division as NEOM McLaren Electric Racing from the 2022–23 season, with McLaren's Formula E and Extreme E divisions renamed as NEOM McLaren Formula E Team and NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team respectively.[78] At the 2023 London ePrix, the McLaren Formula E Team and Neom developed and raced the world's first motorsport livery designed using AI.[79][80]

In July 2020, the American company Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. announced that it would build the world's largest green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia. The company will jointly own the US$5 billion project with Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power and Neom.[81]

In March 2021, Neom signed a four-year global sponsorship agreement with the Asian Football Confederation.[82]

In 2022, Neom hosted Extreme E's 2022 Desert X-Prix and held the naming rights to the series' Island X-Prix in Sardinia.[83][84] In May 2022, Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro was awarded the contract for construction of a 2,930-megawatt solar power generation plant, a 1,370-megawatt wind-power farm, a 400-megawatt battery energy storage system and a power transmission network of about 190 km.[85] In October 2022, Trojena was announced as the future host of the 2029 Asian Winter Games.[86]

After opening its first international office in London in November 2023, Neom opened its second one in New York in February 2024.[87]

Suggestion of Israeli Cooperation


Despite historically antagonistic relations, Israel is speculated to have a major role in the development of NEOM, with some suggesting that Saudi Arabia could be expressing an interest in Israeli intellectual capability to this end. Israel is suggested to have also reciprocated this. In line with this, Saudi Arabia is said to hope to establish an economic partnership with Israel to promote economic development of Neom. In particular, analysts suggest that Saudi Arabia may be interested in improved economic relations with high-tech industries in Israel required for the technological vision of Neom. According to a report in an Israeli newspaper, there is supposedly evidence of coordination between Arab businessmen and diplomats in Tel Aviv, with companies in Israel said to be ready to secure billions of dollars worth of contracts. The Saudi Arabian government is also supposedly involved in such communications. As such, analysts have suggested Neom as a potential impetus for normalisation between Saudi and Israel.[88][89]



Evictions and executions


It is estimated that 20,000 people will be forced to relocate to accommodate the planned city.[13] The Howeitat tribe, who are native to the area, have said that they do not oppose the city but would rather not face forced expulsion and violence.[14] On 13 April 2020, activist Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti posted videos online announcing that Saudi security forces were trying to evict him and other members of the Howeitat tribe from their historical homeland to make way for the development of Neom.[18][14] In the videos, Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti said that he would defy the eviction orders, although he expected that Saudi authorities would plant weapons in his house to incriminate him.[90] He was later shot and killed by Saudi security forces, who claimed he had opened fire on them.[90] London-based human rights activist and fellow Howeitat tribe member Alya Alhwaiti disputed this version of events, stating that al-Huwaiti did not own firearms.[14] al-Huwaiti's funeral was held near the village of al-Khoraibah and was well attended despite the presence of Saudi security forces.[14] Eight cousins of al-Huwaiti have been arrested for protesting against the eviction order, but Alhwaiti has said that she and other human rights activists hoped to challenge the arrests.[14]

In June 2020, Salman signed a $1.7 million contract with American public-relations and lobbying firm Ruder Finn to counter the criticism and controversies involving the Neom city project.[91] In November 2020, British lawyers representing the Howeitat tribe urged Dominic Raab to boycott the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia, arguing that the United Kingdom has a moral imperative to take a stand in defense of the tribe and confront Saudi Arabia over its human-rights issues.[92] In October 2022, the Specialized Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia sentenced three members of the Howeitat tribe to death for resisting displacement.[15] The three men were arrested in 2020 for opposing the eviction of their tribe for the project. One of the condemned men, Shadli al-Howeiti, was the brother of Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti.[93] In May 2024, an ex-intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia named Col Rabih Alenezi claimed that Saudi authorities have permitted the use of lethal force to clear land for Neom and he was ordered to shoot a villager for refusing to be evicted.[94]

2029 Asian Winter Games


In October 2022, Neom was announced as the host of the 2029 Asian Winter Games, a decision that received criticism concerning its adverse environmental impact.[86] Amidst increasing global-warming concerns, the project raised multiple issues ranging from the expected high temperatures in the desert land, the energy impact and detour of local water resources to the construction of artificial ski slopes from scratch. Raphael Le Magoariec, a political scientist and specialist in the geopolitics of sports in the Persian Gulf region said that Riyadh "mainly wants to promote its city of the future."[86] International Ski and Snowboard Federation secretary general Michel Vion expressed surprise at the decision of the Olympic Council of Asia and Olympic downhill silver medalist Johan Clarey said, “it is awful for our sport."[86]

Abusive work culture


In 2022, former employees reported NEOM project CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr for promoting a management culture that "belittled expatriates, made unrealistic demands, and neglected discrimination in the workplace."[18][95] The resignation letter of a former chief executive, Andrew Wirth, accused Nasr's leadership of being "consistently inclusive of disparagement and inappropriately dismissive and demeaning outbursts."[95] Nasr, appointed by Prince Mohammed with the responsibility to lead NEOM, was accused in his tenure of berating and scaring his employees, as confirmed by present and former staff members.[96] Two gigaprojects under the Saudi Vision 2030 were merged in 2022, while the remaining three projects lost their expatriate chief executives and turned over the senior management.[95]

The Saudi government refused to comment, while Neom declined to make Nasr available for answers or interview requests. However, Neom issued a written statement in defense of Nasr and the management culture at the megaproject, asserting that Neom represented "a scale and ambition the world has never seen before" and that it continued to retain and attract more talent because "employees are passionate about what they do and deeply committed to living up to, and delivering on, the Neom vision."[97] Anthony Harris, a former director of innovation at Neom's education team, accused the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of fostering a faulty workplace culture since "Nadhmi takes his cue from his boss, and everyone else at Neom takes their cue from Nadhmi."[95] At one company meeting, Nasr said on record, "I drive everybody like a slave, when they drop down dead, I celebrate. That’s how I do my projects."[95] He also threatened to replace employees stuck in other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, which included the former director of branding and marketing.[95]

In late 2018, Neom's progress suffered after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.[98] Advisers to Neom, including Daniel L. Doctoroff[99] and architect Norman Foster, were reported to have distanced themselves from the project and the "toxic" Saudi crown prince.[100]



Designers of The Line announced plans to use data as a currency to manage and provide facilities such as power, waste, water, healthcare, transport and security.[101] It was said that data would also be collected from the smartphones of the residents, their homes, facial recognition cameras and multiple other sensors. According to Joseph Bradley, the chief executive of Neom Tech & Digital Co., the data sweep would help developers feed the collected information to the city for further predicting and customizing every user's needs.[101]

However, Saudi Arabia's poor human-rights record[102] and use of espionage[103] and surveillance technology for spying on its citizens[104] emerged as a roadblock, according to digital rights experts. Vincent Mosco, a researcher into the social effects of technology, stated that "the surveillance concerns are justified" while further adding that "it is, in effect, a surveillance city."[101] The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology did not respond to digital rights experts and researchers' requests for comments.[101]

Other criticisms


Salman's vision for the city incorporates some technologies that do not currently exist, such as flying cars, robot maids, dinosaur robots, and a giant artificial moon.[105]

See also



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