Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday said his $500 billion flagship project NEOM, a huge economic zone eventually meant to house nine million people, will be partly financed through a flotation expected in 2024, Reuters reports.
The city’s first phase is set to cost 1.2 trillion riyals ($319 billion), half of which will come from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, he said.
The crown prince was speaking to reporters, architects, investors and others attending a presentation that provided updates on the Line project, a key part of the NEOM development.
Saudi Arabia will tap sovereign wealth funds in the region and globally in the fourth quarter of this year to raise part of the remaining 600 billion riyals ($160 billion), which will also be funded through private sector investment and an initial public offering (IPO) that is expected to take place in 2024, he said.
Saudi Arabia will also allocate 300 billion riyals ($80 billion) for a fund linked to NEOM, which will invest in companies that set up there.
The crown prince announced plans for NEOM in 2017 as part of his Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil.
The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund is the cornerstone investor in NEOM, a 26,500-square-kilometre high-tech development on the Red Sea with several zones, including industrial and logistics areas.
NEOM is expected to have capacity for 450,000 people by 2026 and 1.5-2 million people by 2030, eventually housing nine million by 2045, the crown prince said. The interim goal would make the city bigger than Abu Dhabi, he said.
Asked why the development was needed, he said it was central to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious population-growth goals and its ability to compete globally.
“NEOM will add a trillion riyals to the Saudi stock market value. At least 1.2 trillion in the beginning and the overall will increase after project completion to exceed 5 trillion,” he was quoted as saying on state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV.