[스페셜리포트] Saudi mega project ‘NEOM’… Team Korea is shaking

‘The world’s first cognitive city beyond a smart city’ ‘A linear city with a mirrored outer wall to be built in the middle of the desert’ ‘Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Winter Olympics’ ‘Future industrial complex floating on the sea’

Just a few sentences spark the imagination and interest of people all over the world. All this is an explanation of Saudi Arabia’s ‘NEOM’ project. I am surprised once again that it is not a simple modifier, but an explanation conveying facts, and that the procedure is a reality in the near future. With the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to Korea, the interest of ‘One Team Korea’ in winning the Neom order grew even more.

The domestic industry is already excited enough to raise the stock price with Neom’s name alone. Not only construction, but also information technology (IT), electronics, energy, and high-tech materials companies jumped in before winning orders for the NEOM project. The Hyundai E&C-Samsung C&T consortium gave hope to OneTeam Korea by winning an order for the construction of a tunnel worth 1.4 trillion won, which can be called the first project, last June. The NEOM project consists of three main projects. These include ‘The Line’, a rectilinear city, ‘Oxagon’, a floating industrial complex, and ‘Trogena’ for sport and leisure. According to local media such as Al Jazeera, a total of 1 trillion dollars (about 1,400 trillion won) will be invested, and it is estimated that the project cost alone for the construction of the city will reach 500 billion dollars . Saudi Arabia has yet to reveal exact order figures and timetables.

◇ Project NEOM.

NEOM is an extremely large new city project with a size of 26,500 km2 led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. It is promoted to break away from the economic structure of Saudi Arabia, which depends too much on oil, and to create food for the future. The place where Neom will be built is in the middle of the desert in northwest Saudi Arabia. The idea is to build a 170km long linear city surrounded by a mirrored outer wall, a mountain tourism complex including a ski resort, and an industrial complex floating on the sea. It’s more surreal than a science fiction movie, but the mountain tourist complex immediately hosted the Winter Olympics and even started building a real city. It is a future that can be seen with the naked eye in just four to five years.

Neom was created by combining the first letters of the Greek word neo, meaning ‘new’, and the Arabic word, meaning ‘future’. The government of Saudi Arabia announced that it is part of its Vision 2030 policy, and Crown Prince Bin Salman, who will visit Korea on the 17th, is leading the project. Starting with the announcement of the project concept by Crown Prince Bin Salman in October 2017, in 2021, the linear plan of the city ‘The Line’, the core of NEOM, was announced and the design was announced in 2022, and its realization began. The Saudi government expects to create 380,000 jobs by 2030 through the NEOM project.

‘The Line’ was enough to surprise the world with its design alone. It is a linear city with a width of 200m, a length of 170km and a height of 500m in the middle of the desert facing the Red Sea, and the outer walls are made of mirror walls. It connects Akabaman Port and Neom Airport in a straight line. It can be reached in 20 minutes by high-speed rail from one end to the other, and in all urban areas, residents can access all amenities within a 5-minute walk. Living space and traffic space are divided into layers, so you won’t see cars in your living space anymore. All services are automatically operated by artificial intelligence (AI) and run with 100% environmentally friendly renewable energy. By 2030, it is predicted to have a population of 1 million and eventually expand to 9 million. The Saudi government has named it a cognitive city which is one step ahead of a smart city. What makes the city linear is traffic. As the city was designed with the most efficient transport in mind, the idea of ​​a rectilinear city emerged.

So far, only the design has been revealed. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is investing in the project, and Crown Prince Bin Salman recently revealed Neom’s plan to go public. The Saudi government said it would acquire 500 billion from Syria (about 174 trillion won) in 2027 for Neom, and that it would go public in 2024 for this purpose. Infrastructure work, the preliminary stage of urban construction, has begun. Local businesses build the foundations of the city. Recently, a consortium of Hyundai E&C and Samsung C&T started building some of the structures to build tunnels in mountainous areas where the hardest part is in a straight line. Starting with this, it is expected that orders will be placed in 4 to 5 stages by 2030.

Oksagon and Trogena’s design has also been revealed. Oksagon is an octagon-shaped industrial complex floating on the sea, and Trogena is a mountain tourism complex. An artificial freshwater lake, a ski resort, and a holiday resort will be created in this tourism complex. You can’t imagine a ski resort in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia actually managed to host the 2029 Winter Olympics.

◇ ‘One Team Korea’ is aiming for a second boom in the Middle East.

The government has revealed its ambitions to create a second boom in the Middle East by winning overseas construction orders. It plans to become one of the world’s top four construction powerhouses by achieving $50 billion in overseas orders annually. It is known that One Team Korea, organized by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Won Hee-ryong to win the NEOM order, received great hospitality in Saudi Arabia in early November. Minister Won met with the heads of eight organizations, including Yasir Bin Osman Al-Rumayan, Chairman of Aramco and President of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, to promote One Korea Team. The Ministers of Energy, Transport and Logistics, and Economic Planning also met to discuss cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Korea. A Korea-Saudi Housing Cooperation Forum is also scheduled to be held at the end of this month on the occasion of the visit to Saudi Arabia. It also plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the field of mobility.

Minister Won said, “The Korean government and private companies in various fields will become one team to promote various technologies and the competitiveness of Korean companies in Saudi Arabia, and it will be an important momentum to strengthen trust and cooperation between the two countries.” .

Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman, who is visiting Korea on the 17th, is said to be meeting with Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Eui-sun. Because of this, expectations for cooperation between Korea and Saudi Arabia in the Saudi super-large project have increased.

Munbo Gyeonggi [email protected]

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