Saudi's $500bn NEOM to pioneer new age in mobility, says CEO

Klaus Kleinfeld reveals that a number of construction projects are underway, likely be completed by the end of summer 2018
Saudi's $500bn NEOM to pioneer new age in mobility, says CEO
CEO Klaus Kleinfeld pictured with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 10 May 2018 02:12 PM

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM mega-city project will most likely allow only electric vehicles to operate within its confines, according to CEO Klaus Kleinfeld.

Speaking at the Gateway Gulf Investor Forum in Bahrain on Thursday, Kleinfeld said that the city will take into account what he said is a generational shift in regards to demand for car ownership.

“The ‘Neomians’ will...see it differently,” he said. “For them, a car is one way of transportation, which you will have at your fingerprints. You push [a] button and the vehicle that you want shows up.”

Kleinfeld added that NEOM is exploring “how quickly [we] can bring passenger drones in”, as well as how the city can encourage pedestrian traffic.

“The logical means of transportation is walking, so how do you make the cities and the villages [in NEOM] walkable, and easy to use with a bicycle, or scooters,” he said. “These are the concepts that we are working on, and their are gazillions of players willing to help invest in that.”

In his remarks, Kleinfeld noted that NEOM will be a showcase of what he termed a “post-industrial” lifestyle.

“We have to create it in such a way that is is taking away a lot of restrictions that humans have today, so ideally automating a lot of mundane tasks that you don’t want to do, allowing new ways of digital connectivity...and at the same time, making a sense of community,” he said.

Additionally, Kleinfeld said a number of hotels are already under construction in the area, which is currently undergoing “large” building activity and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is building a summer residence in the area for him and his father, King Salman.

“Much of this will be ready, most likely, in the late summer this year,” he said.

In February, the Saudi Arabian government began to award contracts for the development of a NEOM in the northwest of the country, asking local construction companies to build five palaces there.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for the 26,500 square km Neom at an international investment conference in Riyadh last October. Officials said public and private investment in the area was eventually expected to total $500 billion.

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