Bechtel hired to lay foundations for Saudi Arabia’s $500bn city of the future

Neom Co, the developer of a smart city-region in northwest Saudi Arabia, has chosen US engineer Bechtel to design, build and project manage the construction of its transport, power and water infrastructure.  

The city, a pet project of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, is being billed as a $500bn programme to build "a living laboratory and a hub for innovation" based on 5G technology, with an emphasis on high-tech and digital industries such as robotics and AI.

Other features will include an entirely renewable energy supply and, reportedly, an artificial moon, phosphorescent beaches and flying taxis.

Brendan Bechtel, chairman and chief executive of the family-owned company, said in a press statement: "Neom is one of the most complex projects in living memory and we are proud to be part of it. The vision for a futuristic, innovative and sustainable ecosystem is unique and bold, and we believe Neom will change the way new cities are developed by future generations."

So far, Neom Co has also signed contracts with Saudi telecom company STC for a 5G network, and a $5bn partnership with US-based Air Products and Saudi Acwa Power to develop the world’s largest green hydrogen and green ammonia plant, to be operational in 2025.

The city will be built in the Tabuk region, on the Red Sea near the kingdom’s border with Jordan.

Bechtel has long experience of working in Saudi Arabia, beginning with the construction of the Trans-Arab Pipeline in 1947.

More recently, it has worked on Jubail Industrial City and the Riyadh metro.  

Image: Neom’s rendering of the future "living laboratory"

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