Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, is pushing ahead with development plans of its $500bn (Dh1.8 trillion) Neom project despite economic headwinds, as it compensates owners whose properties fall within the futuristic city, according to local media reports.
The financial compensation, which amounts to as much as 5 million riyals (Dh4.89m), was awarded on Sunday to owners of properties within the project area, according to a Saudi Gazette report.
There is no requirement to submit documents to prove ownership, the newspaper cited the Emir of the kingdom's Tabuk region, Prince Fahd Bin Sultan, as saying.
Prince Fahd distributed the first batch of compensation cheques to Saudi citizens last month. Those covered in the compensation scheme will receive social and economic packages and will also be allotted free plots of land within the coastal area of the Duba governorate of the kingdom and in Tabuk city, according to the report.
First unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017, Neom is a $500bn business and industrial zone. The futuristic city is located in north-western Saudi Arabia straddling the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, spanning a total area of 26,500 square kilometres. It is being built on a site that is more than 35 times the size of Singapore and will boast over 450km of coastline.
Neom, along with other mega projects including the 334 square kilometre Qiddiya on the outskirts of Riyadh and the Red Sea Project, a 30,000 square kilometre tourism and nature reserve, are vital to Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plans. The kingdom, Opec’s biggest producer, is trying to diversify its economy away from oil to cut its reliance on the sale of hydrocarbons for revenue.
The kingdom, which has shelved some non-essential projects in the wake of lower oil prices and an economic slowdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, is pushing ahead with major schemes vital to its Vision 2030 programme.
Funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, Neom will house areas dedicated to future technologies in 16 sectors including biotech, food, manufacturing and technology, among others.
Last week, Neom, whose contribution to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product is forecast to reach about $100bn by 2030, signed a deal with US-based Air Products and Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power to build the world’s largest green hydrogen-based ammonia production facility within the city. The $5bn scheme is owned jointly by the three parties.