Saudi Arabia Looks to China for Boost in $500 Billion Neom Project Funding

Saudi Arabia recently ramped up its promotional efforts for its ambitious Neom project by making stops in China, hitting major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to woo potential Chinese investors. Although the tour didn’t lead to any immediate deals, it helped clear up some of the fog surrounding the ultra-modern development.

During the visits, Neom officials aimed to spark interest and provide insights into the futuristic megacity, which has been shrouded in mystery and speculation, particularly regarding its financial viability and expansive vision.

The show seemed to have a lukewarm reception according to Leonard Chan, chair of the Hong Kong Innovative Technology Development Association. While he found the project less enigmatic after the showcase, his personal take was more cautious than enthusiastic: “I’ll visit for fun, but I won’t live there. It’s like something out of SimCity,” Chan remarked to AFP (Agence France-Presse international news agency).

According to Neom’s official press release, the event featured a private, immersive showcase of Neom’s key components: The Line—a 105-mile long futuristic city; Oxagon, set to revolutionize industrial norms; Trojena, a mountain resort; and Sindalah, a luxury island in the Red Sea slated to open later this year.

Despite the roadshow, Neom officials stayed mum on recent reports suggesting cutbacks in the project’s scale. Earlier in the month, Bloomberg highlighted a significant reduction in the projected population for The Line, slashing the number of expected residents from 1.5 million by 2030 to under 300,000.

Tarek Qaddumi, Neom’s executive director, maintained an optimistic outlook, asserting that the targeted population of nine million would be reached eventually.

As financial scrutiny intensifies, Saudi Arabia has reportedly begun borrowing to support Neom among other Vision 2030 mega-projects. Additionally, plans to issue Islamic bonds, potentially raising up to $1.3 billion, Bloomberg reported on April 17, 2024.

Neom’s promotional journey isn’t just limited to China; it has also made stops in global hubs like Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, various U.S. cities, and major European capitals, showcasing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s trillion-dollar vision for the future.

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