Planned construction of Neom megacity has received a shot in the arm following the signing of a US$ 10 billion deal to kickstart its construction.The megacity and business zone would span the border between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
As part of the deal more than 1,000 square kilometres in the south Sinai has been committed for the project, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.
It forms part of the country’s Vision 2030 growth strategy which aims to diversify the country away from its reliance on oil.
The Neom megacity project plans to pioneer the latest technologies including automated driving, passenger drones, the use of robots and developing new ways of growing and processing food.
The project will run along the coast of the Red Sea as well as the Gulf of Aqaba. Its borders will extend across Egyptian and Jordanian borders, making it the first private economic zone to span three countries.
Neom, with its own judicial system and legislation designed to attract international investors, is to focus on industries such as energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and tourism, according to officials.
Some companies, including Japan’s Softbank, have said they are prepared to invest in NEOM.
Plans for the 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) economic zone were first announced at an international investment conference in Riyadh last October. Officials said public and private investment in the area was eventually expected to total $500 billion.