During the opening ceremony of the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, announced a new project, a US $500 billion dollar, futuristic mega-city (33 times the size of New York) powered completely by renewable energy. Dubbed NEOM, the project will span across three countries and aims to bolster the country’s economy. NEOM is the latest in a string of big announcements aimed at diversifying the country’s economy by 2030.
Additionally, bin Salman stated, “We want to go back to what we were: moderate Islam.” During the first day of the two-day conference, the Crown Prince added, “Saudi Arabia was not like this before 1979. We want to go back to what we were, the moderate Islam that’s open to all religions. We want to live a normal life… Coexist and contribute to the world.”
Speaking to a panel that included key business players from across the globe, the 32-year-old promised the Kingdom will work towards defeating extremism.
“Frankly speaking, we will not waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas.”
The Kingdom’s starting point is to establish a religious center, which will monitor interpretations of Prophet Muhammad’s hadith. Additionally, in May, the Crown Prince issued a directive that allows Saudi women access to jobs, higher education, and medical procedures without a male guardian’s permission in an ongoing effort to advance women’s rights in the Gulf country.
The government has also said it wants to develop more entertainment facilities. In its Vision 2030 economic strategy, released last year, it stated, “We consider culture and entertainment indispensable to our quality of life.”