Saudi prince plans emissions-free industry hub floating on sea
Saudi Arabias crown prince plans to build a carbon emissions-free industrial city "floating" on the Red Sea as part of his Neom mega-project, officials said Tuesday.
Neom didn't say how much the city would cost, or how the complex would be engineered to float.
The project, dubbed "Oxagon," will feature a port and a logistics hub, the company developing Neom said in a news release. It will be a "comprehensive cognitive city" focused on robotics and artificial intelligence, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Announced in 2017, Neom is the crown jewel of Prince Mohammed bin Salman's program to overhaul the economy of the world's largest oil exporter. His plan to turn the remote region on the kingdom's northwest Red Sea coast into a robot-driven tech hub encapsulates the major elements of his so-called "Vision 2030" to diversify away from crude, loosen social restrictions and boost investment.
But the project has stirred controversy, including skepticism about its feasibility after some previous efforts to build economic and financial free zones struggled to take off. A relocation process for local residents devolved into violence and arrests.
When Prince Mohammed announced Neom, it was originally framed as a $500 billion investment. Foreign firms have been slow to commit, but some have signed deals including Oracle Corp., Air Products and Huawei Digital Power.
In January, Neom detailed plans to build a car-free 170-kilometer (105-mile) linear city called "The Line" as its centerpiece, however that project's complexity means it could take years to get off the ground.
The industrial city is one of several other zones planned in other areas of Neom and the next to be announced after The Line.
It will be located in the southwest corner of the region of Neom, and will include a previously-announced $5 billion green hydrogen plant that's a joint venture between Acwa Power, Air Products and Neom, currently under construction.
Planners want the city to be 100% powered by renewable energy and to focus on seven industries, Neom said in the news release: sustainable energy, autonomous mobility, water innovation, sustainable food production, health and well being and technology and digital manufacturing and "modern methods of construction."
Neom didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment on the project cost, timeline and other details.