Saudi Arabia's planned mega-city Neom hires industry veterans

Futuristic city appoints senior executives including Uber's former-CEO and Softbank Group's chairman

Neom appoints advisory board members. Courtesy: Saudi Press Agency
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Saudi Arabia's $500 billion mega-city Neom appointed 18 executives to its advisory board including top executives from the urban planning, technology, sustainability, energy and manufacturing sectors.

The kingdom's picks feature a who's who of Silicon Valley executives such as Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former chief executive of ride-hailing app Uber, and Japan's Softbank Group chairman Masayoshi Son.

"The advisory board will help shape Neom’s future through its detailed knowledge and connections with potential long-term strategic partners," said Nadhmi Al Nasr, chief executive of Neom.

Neom is a planned futuristic high-tech city and industrial zone, extending into Egypt and Jordan, that is part of the kingdom's economic reform agenda spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to create jobs and attract foreign investment.


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The appointed members held talks with Neom chiefs at a meeting in New York in August to review its strategy and discuss updates on the project, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

Other advisory board members include Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, who founded software companies including Opsware, Mosaic, Netscape and Ning. Mr Andreessen also sits on the board of  Facebook, eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise among others.

Dan Doctoroff, founder and chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, is also on the board. Mr Doctoroff  was president and chief executive of Bloomberg LP, with previous roles including deputy mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding in New York and managing partner of Oak Hill Capital Partners. He serves on the boards of the University of Chicago, World Resources Institute, the US Olympic Committee, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Human Rights First.

Additional members of the advisory board will be announced as they are appointed, according to SPA.

NEOM is a major feature of the Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious blueprint to diversify its economy away from oil and modernize society. The zone is located in north-western Saudi Arabia and is set to include territory from within the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, to span a total area of 26,500 square kilometers.

NEOM’s contribution to the kingdom’s GDP is projected to reach at least $100 billion by 2030, according to its website.