Egypt and Saudi Arabia have agreed a $10bn plan that will see Egypt allowing a 1,000-sq-km area of its Sinai Peninsula to be developed as part of Saudi Arabia’s new enterprise city, "Neom".
Neom is Saudi Arabia’s bold plan to build a 26,500-sq-km, $500bn industrial zone from scratch in the mountainous desert region in the country’s northwest, on the coasts of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.
Announced in October by the energetic de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Neom will try and attract foreign investment to cultivate new industries including water and energy, food, media, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and entertainment.
Neom was conceived as including territories of both Egypt and Jordan, and the agreement reported yesterday appears to formalise Egypt’s participation.
It was signed during a visit to Cairo by the crown prince this week, a Saudi official told Reuters.
The Egypt-Saudi joint venture also includes joint commitments to boost tourism in the area, with Saudi Arabia planning to build seven cities and tourism projects and Egypt planning to develop the existing resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, reports Arab News.
Saudi Arabia wants to attract more European tourists to its Red Sea coast, and in August last year announced another ambitious plan to create a new global tourism destination on the coast featuring 50 pristine islands, white sandy beaches, and pre-Islamic history and culture.
Bin Salman was in Cairo on Sunday, 4 March, meeting Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss cooperation in tackling terrorism and boosting business between the two countries.
Image: The famous Mount Sinai, on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt (Wikimedia Commons)