Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, announced plans Tuesday to build an entirely new industrial and business region valued at
$500 billion on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast in a drive to wean the kingdom of its dependence on oil, especially in a time of dwindling resources.
The announcement was made at the Future Investment Initiative conference Tuesday, a gathering of more than 3,000 people including Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global investment bankers which.
The zone known as NEOM will focus on industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, according to the unrivaled leader.
It covers 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile), powering itself solely with wind power and solar energy said the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s top sovereign fund.
The crown prince also commented that the Saudi government, the PIF, and local and international investors are expected to put more than half a trillion dollars into the zone in coming years, adding that “NEOM is situated on one of the world’s most prominent economic arteries, its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa.”
The zone will expand into Egypt and Jordan territories, close allies of the kingdom. Both nations could not be immediately reached for further comments.
The crown prince is currently heading a drive to prepare Saudi Arabia for the post-oil era. Since his whirlwind rise to power in 2015, he has revealed plans to sell a stake in oil giant Saudi Aramco, in order to create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. He also spearheaded the successful lifting of the long-standing ban on female drivers.