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Insights The five key features that make NEOM the most innovative project in the world

As far as world-leading construction projects go, Saudi Arabia’s investment into futuristic opportunities stands head and shoulder above the rest. NEOM is a city that is currently being built in northwestern Saudi Arabia, and the goal is to lead the world into a new generation of smart city technologies whilst attracting tourists from across the globe.

HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman set out a clear vision for NEOM: “The land of the future, where the greatest minds and best talent are empowered to embody pioneering ideas and exceed boundaries in a world inspired by imagination.”

This is an exciting space both in terms of innovation in construction and the impact on the sustainability of global construction projects for years to come. The city is broken into four key regions; Sindalah - a luxury island destination, The Line - a 170km long new smart city, Torjena - a mountain destination, and Oxagon - a world-leading space for industry and business.

In this article, we will explore five features of NEOM that make it the most innovative project in the world.

Responding to global challenges

There is no hiding from the leading challenges we must overcome as a planet in the coming decade. NEOM will play a pivotal part in changing how we look at and approach large-scale construction, in line with solutions to these challenges.

In their Envision2030 statement, the UN has outlined 17 goals we must meet by 2030. Many of these relate to areas that NEOM will address, such as taking a new, innovative approach to sustainability, inclusivity, technology and equal opportunity.

For example, The Line project promises the eradication of roads and car emissions and to run on 100% renewable energy sources, aligning with the UN’s guidance that: “...global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak before 2025. Then they must decline by 43 per cent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.”

A flagship business and tourism development 

 With a keen focus on driving sustainable tourism, areas of NEOM, such as Sindalah, will be a flagship for the tourism industry, highlighting how tourism and environmental practices can go hand in hand. The same can be said of the business sector, with the Oxagon region reshaping how technology can complement progression in key business sectors.

Ultimately, this new approach to business and tourism is expected to contribute $48bn to KSA’s GDP. It will also create better living conditions for workers and 380,000 new jobs.

Preserving the natural environment 

Although NEOM will see a monumental shift in how the area looks and feels, special care and attention have been taken to ensure that the natural environment has been preserved. The overall project has an ambitious goal to preserve 95% of the areas surrounding the natural environment. This will highlight the importance of mankind's relationship with the natural world.

Emissions will be kept to an absolute minimum, with 100% of energy coming from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydrogen-based power generation. The area will also roll out innovative solutions in water production and storage that work in harmony with the surrounding environment.

A smart city built from the ground up 

A smart city is simply a city that adopts modern technology, such as sensors and big data, to inform the management of assets and resources and to improve efficiency. Almost every major city will adopt some style of approach to being a smart city. Yet projects at NEOM take this to an entirely new level.

The Line is the clearest example of this. The new living space will be 170km long, only 200m wide and located in the desert. Being built to take a new approach to human and environmental health, The Line will accommodate nine million people whilst only covering 34 square kilometres of land. The city will use smart tech to create the ideal climate year-round and use smart design to eliminate the need for roads and cars, with all facilities within just a five-minute walk. For longer journeys, the space will be home to a high-speed rail.

Changing the future of technology and digital 

To reach its ambitious objectives surrounding sustainability and an improved economy, NEOM will lean heavily on technology and digital solutions. In fact, the project has several ambitious objectives surrounding technology, ranging from fostering disruptive solutions to becoming a playground for digital dreamers and innovators.

NEOM will focus on several key areas of tech, including 5G hyperconnectivity, AI and advanced robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and purpose-built data centres.

NEOM: An exciting next step in your career?

NEOM offers a wealth of opportunities for those wanting to pursue an exciting career in many construction disciplines, such as project management jobs, architecture and planning jobs, quantity surveying jobs and engineering jobs. There are few places across the globe where you can work on such a high level of industry-leading projects that will make an impact at scale.

If you see yourself pursuing a career in construction, or are ready to take your next step, you can join our talent community or sign up for job alerts.