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$500 bn NEOM megacity to herald new int'l tourism map, diversify Saudi economic resources

A $ 500 billion megacity - NEOM - to be set up by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - will re-shape the international tourism and will mark a turning point in Saudi Arabia's move to diversify its economic resources.

On Monday, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in this respect under which both countries will create $10 billion joint fund to develop a megacity in Egypt's southern Sinai Peninsula, with both countries committing more than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of land to the new project.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt also agreed to create $10 billion joint fund, with each contributing by 50 percent, to develop a megacity in Egypt's southern Sinai Peninsula, with both countries committing more than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of land to the new project.

The NEOM project will measure 10,230 square miles, which is more than 33 times the land area of New York City. It will be financed by the Saudi government and private investors and will connect the country to Jordan and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia says NEOM will be home to a vast array of different companies, from biotech firms to restaurants and art museums. The city's first phase is expected to be completed in 2025.

The project will totally depend on renewable energy in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals which call for expanding the use of clean energy and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The investment is part of a range of social and economic reforms in Saudi Arabia, known as Vision 2030. The aim is to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and reduce its reliance on the oil industry, which has been hit by falling oil prices.

Within this context, Saudi Arabia has allocated $ 64 billion for investment in the entertainment sector over the next decade to put itself on the global tourism map. 

The kingdom is expected to hold more than 5,000 live shows, festivals and concerts in 56 cities nationwide this year.

Developing a local entertainment industry may be an attempt to redirect leisure spending by Saudis, who plow billions of dollars annually into travel abroad, back into the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has also announced building its first opera house in Jeddah and lift a 35-year ban on cinemas,  foreseeing an economic contribution of $24 billion from the industry by 2030. 

More than 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens are expected to be opened in Saudi Arabia by 2030.


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