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Mon 29 Jul 2019 10:56 AM

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Glow-in-the-dark sand, robot maids and a fake moon: Proposals for Saudi's $500bn futuristic city

A 2,300 page consultancy document outlines a range of plans for the Neom city on the Red Sea

Glow-in-the-dark sand, robot maids and a fake moon: Proposals for Saudi's $500bn futuristic city
The design plans also included a Jurassic Park-style island to be home to robot dinosaurs, glow-in-the-dark sand on the beaches, robotic martial arts experts as entertainment and exercise, top level security such as drones and facial-recognition to track residents at all times and, most controversially, a proposal to make alcohol available in some parts of the city.

It was announced last week that the first phase of construction at Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion futuristic city Neom was complete, with the second phase set to be announced by the end of this year.

The project, which is being built on the Red Sea coast, was unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 and comprises a 26,500 square kms of land in the far north-west of Saudi Arabia.

Executives behind Neom have stated that they want to create “the most attractive living environment on the planet” for the city’s inhabitants.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last week also issued a report based on a document running to more than 2,300 pages, which was compiled by consultancy firms Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co. and Oliver Wyman and includes some truly outlandish ideas, some still theoretical, which consultants believe would achieve the Crown Prince’s goal of making Neom the most futuristic city on the planet.

“Neom is all about things that are necessarily future-oriented and visionary,” Neom’s chief executive Nadhmi Al Nasr told the WSJ in a statement.

“So we are talking about technology that is cutting edge and beyond - and in some cases still in development and maybe theoretical,” he added.

Flying taxis, robotic maids

The proposals in the document included Jetson-style futuristic ideas such as flying taxis, cloud seeding to reduce the temperature and make it rain, houses cleaned by robotic maids, healthcare scientists on site to modify residents’ genes to make them stronger and the “highest rate of Michelin-starred restaurants per inhabitant”.

The design plans also included a Jurassic Park-style island to be home to robot dinosaurs, glow-in-the-dark sand on the beaches, robotic martial arts experts as entertainment and exercise, top level security such as drones and facial-recognition to track residents at all times and, most controversially, a proposal to make alcohol available in some parts of the city.

One proposal apparently favoured by the Crown Prince was to have a giant artificial moon that would light up the sky each night and could have images beamed on to it.

The document mentioned in the WSJ report said consultants at Boston Consulting Group had suggested teaming up with NASA to create the fake moon, which would be “the biggest in the world” and could become an iconic symbol for the city.

Neom’s CEO said his team were currently evaluating all ideas going forward and would make announcements later in the year on the city’s long-term plans.

“We started Phase 2’s strategy, and we will finish that by end of 2019, which means by the end of the year we will share with the world what Neom is going to be,” Al-Nasr is quoted as saying by Arab News last week.

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