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Saudi Arabia Revises NEOM Project Due to Budget Delays

by Rahil M
0 comment

Neom is a $1.5 trillion project and Crown Prince Mohammed has placed the venture along the Red Sea coast. The main aim of the project is to transform the Saudi Arabian economy.

The Neom Project, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan, is an important part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s goal of diversifying the economy. The project is currently undergoing major revamps according to the sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier, the government aimed to accommodate nearly 1.5 million residents in The Line by 2030, a futuristic project part of Neom. The recent updates, however, suggest a slightly lower expectation with projections now indicating fewer than 300,000 residents by the same timeframe.

Plans for The Line have always involved staged development, with a vision of 170 kilometres of desert coastline ultimately. The latest report, however, suggests a slowdown, with only 2.4 kilometres of the project expected to be completed by 2030. This alteration has convinced at least one contractor to reduce its workforce, as specified in a document studied by Bloomberg. Saudi PIF and Neom representatives declined to comment on the matter.

Neom is a $1.5 trillion project and Crown Prince Mohammed has placed the venture along the Red Sea coast. The main aim of the project is to transform the Saudi Arabian economy. The project also plans to act as a model for sustainable living. The other wider Neom project includes plans for an industrial city, ports, tourism hubs, and infrastructure to host events like the Asian Winter Games in 2029.

Even though adjustments are made to The Line, the Neom project is still progressing. For instance, Sindalah, an island resort within the Neom area, is set to open this year, showing that investment and development aren’t slowing down completely.

The delay in approving Neom’s 2024 budget by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund shows that there are financial concerns at the highest levels of the Saudi government. This highlights the challenges of executing the ambitious Vision 2030 program, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil dependence.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan emphasized the need for an extended timeline to realize the economic benefits of major projects, citing the necessity to establish infrastructure and human resources.

The scaled-back plans for The Line mark a departure from Crown Prince Mohammed’s grand vision, which captured global attention with its ambitious scope and innovative design concepts. Originally intended to be longer than the distance between New York and Philadelphia, The Line’s futuristic skyscrapers were poised to redefine urban living.

While Neom’s progress has been notable in renewable energy initiatives, including a multi-billion dollar project for green hydrogen production, challenges remain. The Public Investment Fund, facing dwindling cash reserves, is exploring various strategies to bolster finances, including debt issuance and equity offerings in portfolio companies.

Crown Prince Mohammed had previously estimated a cost of 1.2 trillion riyals ($320 billion) for the first phase of Neom by 2030, with half of the funding expected to come from the sovereign wealth fund.

The scaling back of The Line’s development plans highlights the need for a realistic and rational assessment of the project’s scope and timeline. While initial ambitions may have been grandiose, adjusting expectations to align with practical realities is essential for long-term success.

Going forward, Saudi Arabia faces the dual challenge of managing financial constraints while maintaining momentum on key development initiatives. The kingdom’s commitment to Vision 2030, despite the delays and revisions, reinforces its determination to transform its economy and secure a prosperous future for its citizens.

As Neom continues to evolve, it serves as a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s aspirations for the future. While the path ahead might be fraught with hurdles, the kingdom remains steadfast in its pursuit of progress and prosperity.

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