No-one has seen a futur­is­tic vision of such grandeur and splen­dour. The ambi­tion is immense. The finan­cial costs extra­or­di­nary. A brand new city, as green as green can be, con­struct­ed in the desert area of Tabuk Province in north­west­ern Sau­di Ara­bia cov­er­ing a site of 10,200 sq. miles or a sim­i­lar size to Mass­a­chu­setts, where grow­ing con­struc­tion costs of up to USD1 tril­lion are now being bandied around like Monop­oly mon­ey. 

This is the world of Isaac Asi­mov, Ray Brad­bury, Philip K Dick and Frank Her­bert all rolled into one. And while crit­ics con­tin­ue to pound the dirt pooh-poohing the vision and tech­no­log­i­cal impos­si­bil­i­ties, NEOM stands firm and is present­ly cen­tre stage at the four-day Cityscape Glob­al Prop­er­ty Event locat­ed in the Exhi­bi­tion and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Mal­ham, Riyadh (Sep­tem­ber 10th-13th). Around 180,000 stake­hold­ers from the world’s prop­er­ty sec­tor are expect­ed to attend. UK atten­dees include Sav­ills, Select Prop­er­ty, TMG Prop­er­ty and James Cubitt & Part­ners.

Team Cityscape

Like NEOM, this event is new. The Mid­dle East is increas­ing­ly becom­ing the coterie of the super rich. Ratio­nale sug­gests, the region backed by Chi­nese exper­tise and know-how, is to become the next glob­al pow­er­house as the West­’s influ­ence crum­bles. It is of no sur­prise to learn that increas­ing num­bers of West­ern com­pa­nies are eye­ing up future oppor­tu­ni­ties, where prop­er­ty is a major and high­ly lucra­tive sec­tor. NEOM rep­re­sents the breath­tak­ing vision of this future dom­i­nance and why the project has been giv­en such stand­ing at the show. It is also a found­ing part­ner and a major spon­sor for an array of Forums, keynote speak­ers and dis­cus­sions under the ‘NEOM Future of Liv­ing Sum­mit Main Stage’.

Part of the project’s vision is the ban­ning of all cars and vehi­cles in the city to be replaced by pas­sen­ger eVTOLs and deliv­ery drones. Some of the lead­ing fly­ing taxi com­pa­nies are already involved in the project includ­ing Volo­copter, while oth­ers like Joby and Lil­i­um are posi­tion­ing them­selves in the region. No doubt, Chi­na-based eVTOLs will also play a major role. NEOM is show­cas­ing its flag­ship devel­op­ments at the exhi­bi­tion: The Line, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary ver­ti­cal city; Tro­je­na, a year-round moun­tain des­ti­na­tion; Sin­dalah, a lux­u­ry island resort; and Oxagon, a green as can be advanced indus­tri­al area.

Please Read this Fea­ture on NEOM Pub­lished in April

In June, a suc­cess­ful series of tests of Volocopter’s Voloc­i­ty eVTOL took place in Sau­di Ara­bia mark­ing anoth­er step toward adop­tion and com­mer­cial oper­a­tions in NEOM and beyond. This was the first time such an air­craft had received a spe­cial flight autho­ri­sa­tion and per­formed tri­al flights in the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia.

The pro­gram last­ed over a week and built on 18 months of col­lab­o­ra­tion between NEOM, the Gen­er­al Author­i­ty of Civ­il Avi­a­tion (GACA), and Volo­copter, with the aim of imple­ment­ing and scal­ing an elec­tric UAM ecosys­tem and test­bed in the futur­is­tic city. 

Nadh­mi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, com­ment­ed, “The suc­cess­ful test flight of a Volo­copter eVTOL is not just anoth­er mile­stone on the jour­ney towards our cre­ation of an inno­v­a­tive, sus­tain­able, mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion sys­tem, but a tan­gi­ble exam­ple of NEOM as a glob­al accel­er­a­tor and incu­ba­tor of solu­tions to the world’s most press­ing chal­lenges. Dri­ving the devel­op­ment of smart, sus­tain­able and safe mobil­i­ty sys­tems will improve live­abil­i­ty and con­nec­tiv­i­ty in cities around the world and reduce car­bon emis­sions, cre­at­ing a clean­er future for all.”

Voloc­i­ty Fly­ing over The Oxagon (graph­ic image)

His Excel­len­cy, Abdu­laz­iz A. Al-Duailej, Pres­i­dent of the Gen­er­al Author­i­ty of Civ­il Avi­a­tion (GACA) of the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia, added, “This rep­re­sents an impor­tant mile­stone of the Sau­di avi­a­tion sec­tor and anoth­er steady step towards achiev­ing new indus­tries that con­tribute to the out­put GDP and cre­ate more jobs. It also con­firms GACA’s com­mit­ment to enabling the safe inte­gra­tion of inno­v­a­tive air trans­port pat­terns that improve the mobil­i­ty expe­ri­ence of indi­vid­u­als in urban areas and the qual­i­ty of life in the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia.”

While Chris­t­ian Bauer, CCO and CFO of Volo­copter, remarked, “As the first eVTOL air­craft to ever test in Sau­di Ara­bia, we are proud to have lain the ground­work for our future col­lab­o­ra­tion here in NEOM.”

Volo­copter eVTOLs will be the key to NEOM’s smart and sus­tain­able mul­ti­modal mobil­i­ty sys­tem, which will be pow­ered by 100 per­cent renew­able ener­gy gen­er­at­ed by solar and wind ener­gy sources. They will be used in a vari­ety of roles, includ­ing as air taxis and emer­gency response vehi­cles.

The test flights build on NEOM’s EUR175 mil­lion invest­ment and joint ven­ture with Volo­copter and posi­tions the futur­is­tic project as a leader in future mobil­i­ty solu­tions.

With over 200 renowned speak­ers, thought lead­ers, and deci­sion-mak­ers shar­ing insights on inno­v­a­tive and sus­tain­able prac­tices, the Cityscape event is a hub of knowl­edge and oppor­tu­ni­ty. UK keynote speak­ers, for exam­ple, include TV Drag­ons’ Den, Peter Jones, and the present­ly embar­rassed Lord Alan Sug­ar after his UKP186 mil­lion tax bill deba­cle. A high­light from NEOM’s main stage includ­ed (Sep­tem­ber 11th) a keynote address from Al Nasr, along­side spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tions from some of the minds behind its flag­ship devel­op­ments.

List of Forums and Keynote Speech­es

The Cityscape Glob­al web­site writes, “One of the most excit­ing ele­ments is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the future of liv­ing, cour­tesy of NEOM. It seeks to engage with prospec­tive future res­i­dents, investors, and part­ners as it pro­gress­es from con­cept to con­struc­tion.”

The project describes itself as “a des­ti­na­tion and a home for peo­ple who dream big and want to be part of build­ing a new mod­el for excep­tion­al live­abil­i­ty, cre­at­ing thriv­ing busi­ness­es and rein­vent­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion. NEOM will include hyper­con­nect­ed, cog­ni­tive cities, ports and enter­prise zones, research cen­tres, sports and enter­tain­ment venues and tourist des­ti­na­tions.”

NEOM’s exhi­bi­tion fea­tures mod­els of these flag­ship devel­op­ments as well as live-streams of con­struc­tion progress on site, and immer­sive VR expe­ri­ences. Expert teams will be on hand to sup­port atten­dees in their under­stand­ing.

The event is play­ing host to hun­dreds of exhibitors includ­ing mas­ter devel­op­ers, show­cas­ing the largest glob­al projects. It will also pro­vide a plat­form for B2B real estate ser­vices, fea­tur­ing devel­op­ers, archi­tects, PropTech inno­va­tors, con­sul­tants, and con­trac­tors.

The Line Under Con­struc­tion Using Chi­nese Engi­neer­ing Exper­tise

Impres­sive­ly, the event opened on Sun­day (Sep­tem­ber 10th) with a bang after the announce­ment of new Sau­di Ara­bi­an prop­er­ty projects worth USD17.3 bil­lion. Of these, the lion’s share comes from the Nation­al Hous­ing Com­pa­ny which is set to devel­op new real estate projects val­ued at USD11.2 bil­lion in the sub­urbs and com­mu­ni­ties under their admin­is­tra­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, a busi­ness cen­tre and the Khuzam sports city in Khuzam Sub­urb was also launched.

Alexan­der Heuff, exhi­bi­tion Direc­tor of Cityscape Glob­al, under­scored the sig­nif­i­cance of this event. He said, “Our launch ties per­fect­ly into the three key pil­lars of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strat­e­gy: A vibrant soci­ety, thriv­ing econ­o­my and ambi­tious nation. In recent years, the real estate mar­ket in Sau­di Ara­bia has grown expo­nen­tial­ly, attract­ing large-scale for­eign and domes­tic invest­ment.”

It is essen­tial glob­al eVTOL and drone com­pa­nies gain a foothold in this future eco­nom­ic pow­er force. For the Mid­dle East is the future.

Al-Nasr con­tin­ued, “What we are cre­at­ing in NEOM rep­re­sents the oppor­tu­ni­ty of a life­time, which will both secure the prospects of the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia and accel­er­ate glob­al progress. The chance to appre­ci­ate, under­stand and share in this trans­for­ma­tive vision is not to be missed.”

West­ern eVTOL, drone and per­son­al fly­ing vehi­cle com­pa­nies, in par­tic­u­lar, please take heed.

For more infor­ma­tion

NEOM Twit­ter

(Images: NEOM)