Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper held a special meeting with the CEO of the NEOM project, Eng. Nazmi Al-Nasr, in conjunction with the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. To talk about the project that Saudi Arabia is counting on to form a unique future destination around the world, and in its details reflects all the main themes of «Vision 2030».
Al-Nasr full declaration….
What has been done in the NEOM project so far?
First, we must recognize the importance of this project and its uniqueness by all standards. It is a reflection of the vision of the Kingdom of 2030 in its three axes:
- A vibrant society.
- A thriving economy.
- An ambitious homeland.
On the other hand, it is considered the largest project in the world in terms of volume and investment. The biggest challenge in realizing NEOM’s vision is simply to carefully plan future opportunities (medium and long).
As Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Constituent Assembly of the city of NEOM said during the declaration of the vision of the project, we do not want to discover after 15 years that we missed an opportunity because we did not plan it properly. What has been achieved so far (quantitatively and qualitatively) depends on proper planning.
What has been done at the planning level so far?
Our goal is to develop NEOM – the economic zone – in an integrated way. Among its components: the residential city, the industrial zone, the King Salman Bridge, which will connect the Kingdom with Egypt, and other facilities. But the most important of these components are the various economic systems, whose integration will integrate the pioneering paradigm of the ‘new’ vision. It is wrong to develop the infrastructure in isolation from developing the economic sectors in which it will operate.
In this sense, we have begun to develop strategies and action plans simultaneously on three tracks. The first concerns the administrative and financial systems and procedures of NEOM as an independent company, the second is the development of the economic sectors and the third is through planning for construction, reconstruction and infrastructure development.
In the first track – the development of administrative and financial systems for NEOM – the most important achievement was the appointment of members of the Constituent Assembly of the project, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Since its establishment, more than 14 meetings have been held, institutional and legal, important and possible for the coming stages.
We are about to complete the establishment of NEOM as an independent entity, which will provide high flexibility and legal independence during the implementation and operation phases of the project. One of the achievements of this track is the recruitment of specialized cadres. NEOM currently has about 300 employees from 16 nationalities, contracts with the role of expertise, and the development of internal rules related to governance, control and performance development.
In the second track – the development of the various economic sectors – the strategy of each of the 16 sectors are being developed, some of which have reached advanced stages, such as the future of energy, tourism and living. The strategy of each sector includes the study of its economies, global best practices in its development, structural and operational factors and opportunities, the attractiveness of its management leadership, as well as the adoption of marketing and information plans for the project in an integrated manner.
This is not only the result of intensive work, intensive effort and intensive studies. For example, intensive studies were conducted in 1,600 cities worldwide, of which 34 were analyzed using the world’s leading experts. More importantly, ongoing meetings with global partners to participate in the stages of developing the plan, drafting special regulations, and attracting the Nayom Advisory Board with a high level of competence, experience and international status, which will be the engine supporting the development of more competitive economic systems than those in international capitals.
Finally, the third track – planning for construction, reconstruction and infrastructure development – and in accordance with the policy of careful planning, our objectives in this process until the completion of the other tracks will be limited to the preparation of the site and logistics services in preparation for the implementation phase.
The survey began with surveying, environmental and archaeological assessment, historical location, and digital mapping of the entire geographic area, covering all terrain and complexity. This will ensure the sustainability of all phases of development in the region, construction of the airport, Civil Aviation, and soon will be the first commercial flights via NAS, the rate of two flights a week. By the completion of our first year, we will begin to develop the overall plan for the entire economic zone, which will determine the initial locations of the infrastructure.
The result will be a large international airport, three regional airports, an automated terminal, logistics facilities and a large industrial area. Including the city of NEOM, as well as the Bay of NEOM, as the first developed area in the project, will be an eclectic eco-tourism destination.
What I want to say here is that our passion for this quality project for the Kingdom and for the world is in sound planning, through which we will be able to realize the vision of NEOM, to be the land of the future, to achieve a new and completely different way of life.
How to ensure the implementation of the three strategic tracks of the project at the target time, by the year 2025?
There are key elements that we promise to ensure implementation of the planning stages, with the quality and time required, within the specific budget, which is political will, adequate funding and governance. I find no clearer evidence of the political will of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz for NEOM as a summer destination, which confirms the commitment of the Kingdom’s leadership to develop NEOM as the destination of the future.
In terms of funding, in addition to the PIF’s commitment to support the project of up to $ 500 billion, we are confident that we can attract direct investment, especially during the US investor meetings, during my participation in the Saudi American Business Council. High interest and a serious desire to join the project, some of whom have visited the region over the past months.
Finally, the Constituent Assembly, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the members, the Panel of Experts and the committees formed by the Council, ensures that the required governance requirements, including performance monitoring, are followed. I am confident that the development of the strategy will be completed and that implementation will begin before the 2025 deadline.
Why do not these projects develop in a full of infrastructure area?
First, we should not forget that there are huge development projects in full swing in all regions of the Kingdom, especially the new projects generated by the National Vision 2030 programs. In contrast, NEOM will offer new opportunities, not only in the cities of the Kingdom, World Capitals. This is because the project will be built on raw land, whose components and structures can be tailored to future visions, not existing infrastructure or development plans that may not be in line with global economic, technical, environmental and lifestyle patterns.
Existing cities around the world have been created over dozens – even hundreds of years – and are difficult to redesign, or fundamentally change their patterns. This is a major attraction for NEOM.
In conjunction with the Future Investment Initiative Conference … Do you see opportunities for small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs in NEOM?
Certainly, we at NEOM are interested in this business category, where we see the flexibility and dynamism to change the rules of the game in the industries of the future, and this is an important factor in bringing health and energy into this unique region.
In order to develop the economic system in the region, we are keen to involve the best-emerging companies to effectively reach intelligent thinking, creative ideas, and the possibility of achieving targeted results in the shortest possible time. Financial support and investment facilities will also be provided by NEOM and investors who have a common interest in developing the future of these sectors in New York and around the world.
What do you think about leading your multinational team for such a project?
I feel that we are in a real world made by imagination. There is no similar or similar project in the world today, which makes me and the entire team face unprecedented challenges; on the other hand, there is a rare opportunity to make a big difference for the whole world. Everyone in NEOM realizes that we are in front of this opportunity, and in our hands to seize it.
Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat