Part of the proposed Neom development

About 15 years ago, local residents where we used to live conned into backing (or at least not opposing) wind turbines being installed close to a residential area. The marketing materials included details of a proposed five-star hotel and golf course, which the developers said would help with tourism. Only the wind turbines were built, the developer “going bust” afterwards. I couldn’t stand the noise of the turbines, and it’s one of the reasons we moved.

It seems a similar kind of bait-and-switch is happening with the much-hyped Neom project in Saudi Arabia, a plan which I thought looked pretty dystopian in the launch video. I may be cynical, but perhaps they never intended to built it all? Perhaps it was meant to deflect attention away from their petro-checmical ambitions, sportswashing, and human rights abuses? It is a huge surprise to me that they built the luxury tourist destination part first. Huge.

Saudi Arabia has scaled back its medium-term ambitions for the desert development of Neom, the biggest project within Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans for diversifying the oil-dependent economy, according to people familiar with the matter.

By 2030, the government at one point hoped to have 1.5 million residents living in The Line, a sprawling, futuristic city it plans to contain within a pair of mirror-clad skyscrapers. Now, officials expect the development will house fewer than 300,000 residents by that time, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Officials have long said The Line would be built in stages and they expect it to ultimately cover a 170-kilometer stretch of desert along the coast. With the latest pullback, though, officials expect to have just 2.4 kilometers of the project completed by 2030, the person familiar with the matter said, who asked not to be named discussing non-public information.

Source: Bloomberg