What is Neom and The Line? Saudi Arabia’s Project and These Ads Explained | SBS News
Saudi Arabia has been promoting its ambitious Neom project specifically to Australians, and in particular its latest project; a narrow desert oasis called The Line. The ads have appeared on Twitter – where the @NEOM account has one million followers – and LinkedIn.
What exactly is Neom?
MBS says Neom will have a capacity of 450,000 people by 2026 and nine million by 2045.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to be seen as a modernizer. Source: AAP
Physically, it will be located in an area extending up to 26,500 km in Saudi Arabia and will be divided into three regions, including Oxagon, a hub for industries and technology, and the tourist town of Trojena, located in a mountainous region where people can go skiing, attend yoga retreats and music festivals.
Described as “a civilizational revolution that puts people first”, the city will stretch for 170 km and promises residents to be able to travel by public transport from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes . All amenities would be available within a five minute walk.
Neom released images of its futuristic city The Line in July. Source: Provided / neom.com
The images show conceptual illustrations of a lush city with green spaces and rooftop gardens. Advanced ventilation and the use of solar, wind and hydrogen power will also ensure “clean, fresh air for its inhabitants”, according to marketing materials. It’s a bright, modern take on the kingdom and it’s exactly the impression of Saudi Arabia that the crown prince wants the world to see.
Why is Neom advertised in Australia?
Asked why the kingdom would want to announce the project here, Middle East expert Rodger Shanahan of the Lowy Institute said Saudi Arabia likely needs foreign Western investment. This could include attracting funding and partnerships with Australian companies, particularly those with niche capabilities, he said.
“They can’t do it alone, technically or even financially,” Shanahan said of the Neom project.
The Line by Neom offers an “unprecedented urban living experience”. Source: Provided / neom.com
“You need huge amounts of foreign investment to achieve that, or even a lot of that.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that MBS ordered Mr Khashoggi’s assassination, contradicting claims by the Saudi government that he was not involved in the murder.
You need to present yourself as the kind of company people will want to invest funds in
Rodger Shanahan of the Lowy Institute
“This whole Khashoggi thing was part of the reason why some foreign investors are going to be and will continue to be worried about being associated with investments in Saudi Arabia, as long as there are these human rights issues.” , Mr. Shanahan said.
Why is Saudi Arabia doing this?
The Neom project is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to rebuild the economy, make it less dependent on oil and attract foreign investors and tourists. It was launched in 2017, about a year before Mr Khashoggi died, but lost much of its momentum amid controversy.
Murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Source: press association
Mr Shanahan said the kingdom needed to rehabilitate its image to keep projects like Neom on track. He said that launching events like the appeared to be an attempt to “sportswash” allegations of human rights abuses in the kingdom.
“The whole Saudi social contract had been ‘don’t worry about political rights, because you’re taken care of economically.’ , Mr. Shanahan said. said.
“At the same time, he is completely ruthless when it comes to cutting at the knees, any criticism of his actions, any potential rivals…and hitting hard on any public criticism of him,” Mr Shanahan said.
Will it work?
“I think they’re trying, in a way, to not only build their brand, but to make amends for past wrongdoings…and one of the ways of doing that is through these things like these big developments. , you’re proving you’re modern,” said Dr Hughes.
Dr Hughes said Saudi Arabia may have seen the UAE’s success in marketing Dubai to the rest of the world as a destination city or convenient stopover location. Through Neom and The Line, the Crown Prince hopes the world will no longer see Saudi Arabia as a conservative, male-dominated nation where homosexuality is still punished and women are repressed.
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