Riyadh – Mubasher: Saudi Arabia revealed a slew of investment projects in 2018, chief among them were NEOM, the $500 billion flagship business zone, along with the Red Sea, Qiddiya, and Amaala developments.
These projects have been part of the oil-rich nation’s plan to boost its gross domestic product (GDP) as well as reduce its dependence on oil revenues.
Mubasher cast light on the key Saudi projects announced in 2018.
In October 2017, the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced a plan to build a $500 billion city in the northwest of the kingdom.
The project known as NEOM would be a business and industrial zone that also links with Jordan and Egypt.
The GCC state awarded in January 2018 the first contracts for the infrastructure of “Neom” on the shores of the Red Sea, with a total value of SAR 15 billion.
In August 2018, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz met with the cabinet for the first time in Neom city. By the end of this month, the project’s administration hired Aradhana Khowala to be the head of the tourism sector.
NEOM will have a strategic location, near to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, and near maritime trade routes that use the Suez Canal, which in return will facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Red Sea Tourist Project
The Red Sea global tourism project was launched by bin Salman in 2017, while the development's foundation stone is expected to be laid in Q3-19.
The first phase of the Red Sea tourist project is expected to be finished during Q4-22.
CEO of the project John Pagano said on the sidelines of the third day of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) that the project would offer 35,000 job opportunities for Saudis.
Amaala luxurious project
In September 2018, the state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) unveiled plans to implement “ultra-luxury” destination for international tourists on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast under the name “Amaala”.
Amaala will focus on wellness, healthy living, and meditation for non-Saudis.
Saudi Arabia appointed Nicholas Naples, former head of Integrated Resorts International in Hong Kong, as Amaala’s CEO.
In April 2018, the Saudi ruler Salman bin Abdulaziz stated that he would launch construction works of the entertainment city project in Qiddiya, to be a recreational, sport, and cultural destination in the kingdom.
In the same month, the US-based movie exhibition company AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. unveiled its plans to acquire a 50% share of Saudi Arabia’s cinema market in the coming period.
The Saudi sovereign investor PIF and the American recreation firm Six Flags agreed to inaugurate a theme park in the kingdom by 2022.