Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, crown prince, deputy prime minister, chairman of the Council of Economic & Development Affairs and chairman of the Public Investment Fund, took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative today to launch a ground-breaking new initiative that will establish a new urban ecosystem stretching 21,500 sq. km along the north west Red Sea coast of the Kingdom.
The new project, entitled ‘NEOM’, will seek to maximise the natural advantages the area has for wind and solar energy, and is being supported by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, led by former Alcoa and Siemens chief executive, Klaus Kleinfield.
Partners from leading technology companies are being called to join the innovative project, with public backing already secured from robotics experts Boston Dynamics.
In outlining the NEOM plan, crown prince Mohammad bin Salman said: “There will be many opportunities, but we will work only with the dreamers - people who want to create something new in the world.”
Touching on the radical nature of the plan, the crown prince suggested that the new development will be as transformative to cities as the smartphone was to telephones.
He also stressed the pivotal role the citizens of Saudi Arabia will play in ensuring the success of this project, referring to them as “the most important asset we have”.
Regarding the NEOM project, Softbank chairman Masayoshi Son called it a fantastic opportunity which would create “the largest and most advanced generation of robots in the world”.
Marc Raibert from Boston Dynamics spoke confidently on how NEOM can be a testbed for the successful implementation of a range of technologies, as well as a key factor in pulling smart robotics forward.
Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman called the project “transformational”.
New chief executive of the project Klaus Kleinfield promised the technology industry that NEOM will be a “beautiful and natural place” for the best and the brightest to make their mark for generations to come.
In this regard, Kleinfield committed to a collaborative process in the development of regulatory systems that will work for, and adapt to, new technologies, including drones, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
He suggested that the new development will be a “magnet for talent”.
Organised by Public Investment Fund, the Future Investment Initiative is taking take place in Riyadh from October 24th-26th.
The invitation-only event is being organised in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a blueprint that is already charting the path for the Kingdom to harness its strategic location and strong investment capabilities.