Saudi crown prince announces plans for £380bn city run on alternative energy

Ambitious Neom project in Red Sea zone will serve as 'worldwide technology innovation hub' by 2025

Aya Batrawy
Riyadh
Wednesday 25 October 2017 09:48
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Saudi Arabia's crown prince: Country will return to 'moderate, open Islam'

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Saud has announced plans for a new £380 billion city to be built to run entirely on alternative energy and be an innovation hub for the future.

The project, dubbed Neom, will be built on untouched land along the country's Red Sea coastline near Egypt and Jordan.

The ambitious project could lead the way in the use of drones, driverless cars and robotics.

The kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, which the crown prince chairs, the Saudi government and global technology firms will help build the city.

Prince Mohammed announced the project at a major investment conference in Riyadh aimed at shining a spotlight on the kingdom's efforts to diversify its revenue streams away from dependence on oil exports.

The Future Investment Initiative conference is being attended by giants in the business world, corporate managers from some of the world's largest firms and senior Saudi officials.

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Prince Mohammed defended his bold reform plans, including the kingdom's recent decision to lift the ban on women driving, saying: “We were not like this in the past.”

The 32-year-old prince added: “We want to go back to what we were: moderate Islam.”

The heir to the throne said the kingdom will work to defeat extremist ideas and ensure that young Saudis live in harmony with the rest of the world.

“We will eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon. We represent the moderate teachings and principles of Islam.”

He addressed a panel that included business leaders Stephen Schwarzman of US private equity firm Blackstone and Masayoshi Son of Japan's technology conglomerate SoftBank.

The panellists later praised the prince for his “passion, vision and enthusiasm”, but he interjected, saying he is only “one of 20 million people. I am nothing without them”.

AP

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