Saudi’s not just aiming high, it’s making the impossible, possible

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Time: July 03, 2018

Nadhmi Al-Nasr has been named Neom’s new CEO. He takes over from Klaus Kleinfeld, who will now undertake a new role advising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince on his reform plans.

Neom is the $500 billion city planned on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.

New positions to lead innovation

Kleinfeld will “take over wider responsibilities to enhance the economic, technological and financial development” of the kingdom as an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a statement to Bloomberg News on Monday.

In the change, effective August 1, Kleinfeld will retain a role at Neom as a board member.

Seeking to make the kingdom less dependent on oil, Prince Mohammed announced plans to build Neom back on 24 October in 2017. Neom promises a lifestyle not available in today’s Saudi Arabia; a futuristic city that officials claim will have more robots than humans.

Their new positions will go a long way

Kleinfeld will “contribute in various functions” to this plan, according to the statement.

The project will be backed by more than $500 billion from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as from local and international investors, reports cite.

In the statement to Bloomberg News, Neom said that Al-Nasr has worked on the strategy and development of Neom Bay as a member of the founding board and is also interim president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

A former manager at Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Aramco, Al-Nasr will be responsible for “developing the business plans for the core economic sectors” of the new city.

Projects in the Kingdom are going strong

Similar efforts have struggled to take off, but the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been swift to fix many issues surrounding the previously planned King Abdullah Financial District.

Despite construction delays, the District is now scheduled to open in 2020, architectural news siteArchpapers reports.

The Kingdom’s effort in finding investors for Neom haven’t been in vain either, as the project has secured several foreign investors in the past. Officials hope the sale of 5 percent of oil giant Saudi Aramco, will raise $300 billion to help fund the creation of Neom and that more money will be invested by the private sector,  CNBC reports.

The project is estimated to take 30 to 50 years to complete, with the first phase due in 2025.

The palaces for the king, crown prince, and other senior royals, to be located on the Red Sea coast about 150 km west of the city of Tabuk, are among the first contracts that were awarded for Neom, Business Insider (BI) reports.

Saudi Binladin Group, the country’s most prominent construction firm, has been mandated to build one of the palaces in a sign that it retains the government’s support despite the recent detention of some of its owners in a crackdown on corruption.

“Banks have started offering financing facilities to builders of the palaces,” BI reports.

A project design document seen by Reuters showed Moroccan-style architecture featuring Islamic designs and mesmerizing ceramic tiles. The complex of palaces will include helipads, a marina, and a golf course.

Some companies, including Japan’s Softbank, have said they are prepared to invest in Neom, but significant, concrete business investments have not yet been announced.

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