Saudis set $500 billion plan to develop business and industrial zone

By ali Thursday, 26 October 2017 3:03 AM

Saudis set $500 billion plan to develop business and industrial zone

Add new comment

CNBC -- Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday a $500 billion plan to build a business and industrial zone that links with Jordan and Egypt, the biggest effort yet to free the kingdom from dependence on oil exports.

The 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) zone, known as NEOM, will focus on industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, the crown prince said people with vision would see the opportunity.

"This place is not for conventional people or conventional companies, this will be a place for the dreamers for the world," he said, speaking on a panel at the conference Tuesday. "The strong political will and the desire of a nation. All the success factors are there to create something big in Saudi Arabia," he added.

NEOM could be a major focus of new investment. The Saudi government, the PIF and local and international investors are expected to put more than half a trillion dollars into it in coming years, Prince Mohammed said.

Adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba and near maritime trade routes that use the Suez Canal, the zone will serve as a gateway to the proposed King Salman Bridge, which will link Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the PIF said.

"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."

There was no immediate comment on the plan from Jordan and Egypt, which are close allies of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh said it was already in contact with potential investors and would complete the project's first phase by 2025.

Prince Mohammed appointed Klaus Kleinfeld, a former chief executive of Siemens AG and Alcoa Inc, to run the NEOM project.