Saudi Arabia, one of the richest nations in Asia, is in talks with tech giants Amazon and Alibaba to set up a $500 billion city along the Red Sea. The project titled Neom is likely to open for business in 2025, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg. The Saudis are also talking to Airbus SE, a Dutch aerospace and defense company. Limited operations at the proposed city, however, could begin as early as 2020. “We have the who s who from around the world engaging in this,” the prince stated. Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale: Best deals on headphones, speakers, powerbanks under Rs 1000Also Read - iPhone 12 for iPhone 11 launch price at Flipkart Big Saving Days sale, iPhone 12 Mini alse sees discount
Saudi Arabia has traditionally been an oil-based economy. It is, in fact, the world’s largest exporter of oil. But now the prince is consciously trying to shift the country’s dependence on oil, and is creating business opportunities in others sectors. Most recently he announced that local oil giant Aramco would now become a publicly listed company. Prince Mohammed has also announced a stake sale. He’s also undertaken socially progressive measures like removing a longstanding ban on women driving. This could spur a few automobile companies to strike business partnerships with the Saudis. ALSO READ: Amazon receives over 200 proposals for second HQ city: Report Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale deals revealed: Discount on OnePlus Nord CE, Mi 11X, Samsung Galaxy M42
Project Neom, meanwhile, stands the chance of turning into something formerly unimaginable in Saudi Arabia. A promotional video revealed things like virtual women in Neom jogging in public spaces, and rubbing shoulders with men. The Crown Prince has also indicated that artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) will help create for Neom a lifestyle that isn’t available anywhere else. “Your medical file will be connected with your home supply, with your car, linked to your family, linked to your other files. And the system develops itself in how to provide you with better things,” he explained. ALSO READ: How Alibaba is slowly yet surely expanding its footprint in India
He’s further envisioned robots and self-automation, and a city that is entirely app-driven. It is the Saudi government that would be funding the entire project through the Public Investment Fund, and local and international investors. Several policy-makers, regulators and investors are being wooed by the Prince for sustained interest in the project, given Saudi Arabia’s past record of building mega projects is patchy. For Amazon, now a global giant with a presence in countless sectors, this could be an exciting opportunity in an untested territory. And for Alibaba, often touted as the Amazon of the East, a $500 billion business deal could mean only one thing takeover of the Asian market.