Neom is the newest attempt in combining technology, entrepreneurship, science, and innovation to create a city with limitless opportunities. The centrepiece for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to expand on their country’s unique strengths and capabilities, Neom is a 500 billion dollar projected project meant to grow the country’s economy and create a vibrant society. Announced by Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Developmental Affairs Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in 2017, Neom has plans that focus on five different fundamentals, sustainability, community, technological, nature, and livability. With phase one of the project already nearing completion, this project will have a massive impact on the region and will pioneer the future of city-designing.

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NEOM: Saudi Ambitions and Inconvenient Activists. ©
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Saudi Arabia’s ‘shiny new toy’ – a desert mega-city 30 times bigger than New York. ©

Neom, meaning “new future” in Arabic certainly fits the name. Projected to cover 10,230 square miles on the Red Sea in northwest Saudi Arabia, this large-scale project plans to create an environment where humans and technology can interact and reinvent the future in aspects such as energy, mobility, manufacturing, agritech, health, and livability. The designated location offers diverse terrain, with long beaches, valleys, deserts, and mountain views all with an average 10 Celsius cooler climate than the rest of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council making it ideal for future residents. One of Neom’s fundamentals is mobility for tourists and residents. The project plans to use its strategic location to become the centre of world trade and be accessible to 70% of the world’s population in under eight hours through its recently constructed Neom Airport. With already 10% of the world’s trade flowing through the Red Sea, other major hubs like London will be five hours away, Dubai and Cairo two, and Zurich five and a half using the new airport. Neom will also be constructing high-speed transit and on-demand shared mobility using already-developed digital infrastructure that will allow all neighbourhoods in the city to be connected and accessible. This, along with carefully designed street plans that prioritize walking and cycling will allow mobility throughout the entire city for residents and eliminate personal driving as a priority. The new connections between neighbourhoods and whole countries will allow the integration of new cultures within the city and spread inclusivity and progress. 

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This is what Saudi Arabia’s Neom Bay Airport looks like. ©

Another key goal of Neom is for it to become a lead example of sustainable city practices. It is projected that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in an urban area by 2050. To combat our current climate crisis Neom aims to reinvent the future of wind and water energy.

As previously mentioned, Neom’s climate is 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the GCC. This is due to the strong breezes coming in from the Red Sea. The city aims to use these breezes as a competitively priced renewable energy source and develop a smart transmission and distribution network with the latest and most advanced technologies. The other sustainable source of energy Neom can rely on is water. With more than 450 kilometres of coastline, Neom has a vast supply of seawater to use for water production, storage, fertilizer, and reusable freshwater for irrigation thanks to Neom’s extensive knowledge of desalination research. Engineers and architects here are focused on developing a water distribution network entirely connected through advanced interoperable modular systems to ensure minimal water loss. Neom also plans to use solar power to provide energy for the city. The city has the potential of using 20 MJ/m2 of perennial solar resources thanks to its desert location. Solar, along with wind and water energy will launch Neom into becoming one of the most sustainable cities in the world.

An Accelerator of human progress. ©
An Accelerator of human progress. ©

One of the most influential aspects of Neom is its emphasis on new technology and practices across different sectors. For example, city planners want to use innovation to change manufacturing in Saudi Arabia. With new materials and methods springing up, there are more possibilities for factories and other manufacturing systems to use nanotechnologies, 3D printing, robotics, renewable sources, and much more. Unrestrained by outdated and inefficient laws and infrastructure, Neom wants to become a living laboratory to test out all these new ideas and create an advanced manufacturing system, redefining boundaries as they develop. With new manufacturing systems being developed in Neom, the future of construction will also be greatly altered. As one of the largest developments in the world, the way architects and planners design and execute projects will have new systems, materials, and practices to consider. Neom will also reconceive performance and efficiency in the fundamentals of architecture such as usability, environmental sustainability, circulation, and materials.

Everything we know about Neom, a ‘mega-city’ project in Saudi Arabia with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs.©

With the combination of renewable energy resources, well-thought-out mobility across the city, and the innovative technologies being integrated into everyday life, the standard of living will improve. Neom believes its cutting-edge technology and practices will improve the quality of life, develop inclusive communities, enhance urban sustainability, and ensure the best use of technology to deliver a world-class city and attract the next generation of great thinkers and talent. All aspects of life will be reconfigured in Neom, including physical, mental, and social. As the project enters its second phase of construction and design, Saudi Arabia gets closer to the economic and social goals of its future. 


  • Bostock, B. (2019, September 23). Everything we know about Neom, a ‘mega-city’ project in Saudi Arabia with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs.
  • An Accelerator of human progress. (n.d.).

Filled with a passion for architecture, traveling, journalism, athletics, and the environment, Emely Acobo is an architecture graduate student at Florida International University, with an aspiration to further develop green architecture as well as enhance her writing and research skills in journalism.