Saudi Arabia Just Announced Plans to Build a Mega City That Will Cost $500 Billion

The announcement by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to create the mega-city of NEOM would offer a Dubai-like ‘free-zone’ city.

A new mega-city sitting on the Red Sea, and connected to Egypt and Jordan, has received $500 billion in backing from the Saudi government. Bloomberg reports that the proposed city of NEOM will occupy close to 10,000 square miles and will operate as a ‘free zone’, with separate laws and regulations from the rest of Saudi Arabia—similar to how Dubai operates in the UAE. The move is seen as another step in the country’s attempt tor reform its oil-based economy creating what Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman describes as a new generation of cities powered by clean energy.

The unveiling of the new project comes as Saudi officials, almost two years into the latest reform drive, are still grappling with how to speed up change without crippling the economy and clashing with the kingdom’s conservative religious establishment.The world’s biggest oil exporter wants to overhaul the economy while creating enough wealth to avoid the risk of social unrest. Similar efforts over the past three decades have floundered, with plans losing steam as soon as crude prices recovered.