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International

Saudi Arabia plans to build US$500 billion futuristic city for innovators

19:05, Wednesday, 25 October, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans to build US$500 billion futuristic city for innovators

Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince on Tuesday announced plans to build a futuristic city run entirely on alternative sources of energy and said the ultraconservative kingdom must return to “moderate Islam.”
     The $500 billion “Neom” project , envisioned as a hub for technological innovation, will be funded by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, which the prince oversees, as well as the Saudi government and a range of private and international investors.
     “This place is not for conventional people or conventional companies,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told an audience of investors from around the world gathered in the capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday. “This will be a place for the dreamers of the world.”
     It’s the latest surprise move by Saudi Arabia, a country that for decades was characterized by slow, cautious reforms, bureaucratic red tape and promises that fell short of target. The kingdom was forced to spring into action nearly three years ago after global energy prices fell by more than half, threatening to deplete Saudi foreign reserves and spending power by 2020.
     Now, the kingdom is on a mission to build the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund to invest in projects like Neom. The aim is diversify revenue away from oil exports and create more jobs under a plan spearheaded by the crown prince known as Vision 2030 .The crown prince envisions it as a hub for innovation, where scientists would develop new technologies and investors would make healthy returns. It’s a place, he said, where drones, driverless cars and robotics might all work together to ensure there’s no traffic, for example.
     Prince Mohammed chose to unveil the project at the Future Investment Initiative conference being organized by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

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