$500B Saudi City NEOM Selects Bechtel to Accelerate Work

NEOM has selected Bechtel to accelerate primary infrastructure development for its Cognitive Cities. It has awarded a contract to the U.S.-based global industry leader for executive project management work.

Saudi Arabia is building the crossborder city NEOM, a US$500 billion futuristic mega-project deep in a desert bordering the Red Sea — the Kingdom says “it will be 33 times the size of New York City with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs”, according to a report in Business Insider.

Neom is a portmanteau of the Greek word neos, meaning “new,” and mustaqbal, the Arabic word for “future”

“Blueprints obtained by the Wall Street Journal detail wild plans for artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, and holographic teachers. Phase one is due for completion in 2020, with the final brick laid in 2025.”

The proposed site for the Neom project. Many regional experts see the ambitious real estate project as a strong link that might bind Saudi Arabia with Israel for the long haul.

According to a report posted by Bechtel in LinkedIn, the US engineering and consulting giant with global outreach, will oversee and create resource-efficient utilities and a highly advanced transport system to connect NEOM’s cognitive cities. Work will include simultaneous construction in multiple locations requiring extraordinary engineering solutions in challenging terrain.

“After Jubail, the 2nd world class city construction has started with area of 42000sqkm.. (and the) city size is anew as Belgium,” says an American professional based in Riyadh.

It will cover 10,230 square miles, and cost Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund at least $500 billion — plus millions in foreign investment if it can get it.

“Infrastructure and master planning work has started at site and offsite. Firms from UK, US and other countries are also involved”.

Besides Bechtel, Aecom, SNC Lavalin are also in the US$500 billion project, says a source.

So far, Neom Co has also signed contracts with Saudi telecom company STC for a 5G network, and a $5bn partnership with US-based Air Products and Saudi Acwa Power to develop the world’s largest green hydrogen and green ammonia plant, to be operational in 2025.

The NEOM dovetails Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan launched in April 2016.

It is being built in the Tabuk region near the kingdom’s border with Jordan and sits next to Gulf of Aqaba, bordering Israeli’s port Eilat in the north and several Egyptian ports along the south.

Neom is part of Vision 2030: an ambitious plan to revolutionize Saudi society, reduce dependence on oil, and make the country a technology hub

Many regional experts see the ambitious real estate project as a strong link that might bind Saudi Arabia with Israel for the long haul.

Planned as a beacon for the future of urban living in the kingdom based on 5G technology and renewables, NEOM will be far beyond the capabilities of today’s smart cities. Its infrastructure will utilize AI, robotics, and human-machine fusion to deliver greater predictive intelligence and enable faster decision making across all sectors.

According to reports, NEOM (a planned 16-borough city) will be the home and workplace to more than a million residents from around the region and around the world.

Neom is supposed to draw on “cloud seeding” technology to make artificial clouds which will produce more rainfall than naturally possible in the desert

Commenting on the award, NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr said: “Built from the ground up as a model of future living, NEOM will be one of the largest, most sophisticated and advanced infrastructure projects ever undertaken globally, and we are delighted to have a major industry leader like Bechtel on board to work with us to realize our ambitions.”

Bechtel Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Brendan Bechtel said: “NEOM is one of the most complex projects in living memory and we are proud to be part of it. The vision for a futuristic, innovative and sustainable ecosystem is unique and bold, and we believe NEOM will change the way new cities are developed by future generations. We have helped our customers shape the Kingdom’s history with many key projects and we are honored to be a partner in building its future.”

Neom will also have the “leading education system on the planet,” with classes taught by holographic teachers

Bechtel has long experience of working in Saudi Arabia, beginning with the construction of the Trans-Arab Pipeline in 1947.

More recently, it has worked on Jubail Industrial City and the Riyadh metro.

With additional input from Irshad Salim in Islamabad.


— Another idea is a ‘Jurassic Park’-like island for tourists with robotic dinosaurs.
— At night Neom is supposed to be illuminated by a giant artificial moon.
— People will get about using flying taxis.
— The Red Sea coastline will be altered, according to the plans, with glow-in-the-dark sand added to its beaches.
— Construction work has already started on Neom Bay, phase one of the mega-city.
— Some progress has already been made: Neom Airport is nearly finished, and has already been registered as an official international airport.
— The Saudi government is already hosting events at the site of Neom to generate investment and media attention.
— In October 2019, Neom announced plans for the city to be “one of the world’s most prominent e-gaming hubs.”
— The future of the project is in flux, however, reported Financial Times in Dec 2018.
— “But it has broken the ground”, says a professional in Saudi Arabia.

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