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Saudi Arabia Lays Foundations for a New Future

Oct 25, 2017 | 16:29 GMT
Saudi Arabia's decision to construct the NEOM project, a futuristic city on the coast of the Red Sea, is a risk the country has to take.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second from left) and other participants attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Oct. 24, 2017. The crown prince pledged a "moderate, open" Saudi Arabia, breaking with conservative religious leaders in favor of an image catering to foreign investors and Saudi youth. He also announced plans to construct the NEOM project, a modern city on the coast of northwestern Saudi Arabia.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia is again paving the way for a more diversified economy. The country kicked off the Future Investment Initiative on Oct. 24, in the hopes of furthering its efforts to attract foreign investment. The crown jewel of the event was the unveiling of the $500 billion NEOM project by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The NEOM project -- which takes "neo" from the Latin word for new and "m" from the Arabic word for future (mostaqbal) -- aims to develop a 26,500 square kilometer megacity in northwestern Saudi Arabia with an independent economic zone that stretches into Egypt and Jordan. It's an ambitious plan, one that could put Saudi Arabia on the map as a leader in developing the cities of the future using new technologies that other cities cannot. But there are just as many risks: There is no guarantee that the city will succeed, or even be completed...

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