Travellers hoping to visit Saudi Arabia's futuristic smart city Neom will be able to do so from next month.
That's because Saudia Airlines is launching the first commercial flights from Neom Bay Airport to Dubai in June. The weekly round-trip flight will be operated via aircraft sporting special Neom-Saudia livery, in an effort to showcase the megacity to the world.
Next on the agenda will be direct flights from Neom Bay to London, although no details have yet been released on when these international flights will begin operating.
Located in Tabuk, north-western Saudi Arabia, Neom sits at the crossroads of three continents. About 40 per cent of the world's destinations are accessible within approximately a four-hour flight time from Neom Bay Airport, which was constructed to serve the multibillion-dollar gigaproject.
Previously, the closest commercial airport to the megacity was Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Charter flights have been operating to and from Neom Bay Airport since 2019, with flight times of around two hours to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city.
Saudia's weekly flights to Dubai will be the first regular international commercial services to the destination.
“This partnership is in line with Saudia’s ambition to support Saudi Vision 2030 by increasing passenger traffic domestically and regionally, as well as expanding our connections to global cities,” said Ibrahim Al-Omar, director general of Saudia.
"As Neom continues to progress, demand for travel to there is only increasing, making it a natural addition to our list of destinations.
Predicted to be home to millions of residents by 2030, people are expected to begin arriving in 2024, according to Neom's head of tourism.
Neom has been designed as a smart city, which will be entirely powered by clean energy. The city will be home to a number of tourist attractions, including miles of unexplored Red Sea waters and Trojena mountain destination, which will have a ski slope, mountain biking, watersports and an interactive nature reserve.
Saudia plans to operate direct flights from Neom Bay to select regional and international destinations, improving access to the city for those involved in building what's been billed as one of the most ambitious projects in the world.