Saudi Arabia hires top tech CEOs to build new cutting edge ‘mega city’

 Saudi Arabia’s new super tech mega city

Advertisement – Advertise here from OMR 100 / $275 USD

Al-Sahawat Times | Ethical Global News from Oman and UAE | Donate HERE 

Advertisement – Advertise here from OMR 100 / $275 USD

Saudi Arabia is attracting big names from around the world to advise on one of its most ambitious projects to date, the building of a hyper futuristic mega city.


Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, SoftBank (SFTBF) CEO Masayoshi Son, venture capitalist and Facebook (FB) board member Marc Andreessen and Y Combinator President Sam Altman, are among the tech, science and business heavyweights who have agreed to serve on the project’s advisory board, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.


Ernest Moniz, the former US Energy Secretary under President Barack Obama, said Wednesday he was suspending his participation on the advisory board “given current events.” “Going forward, my engagement with the advisory board will depend on learning all the facts about journalist, Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance over the coming days and weeks,” he said in a statement.


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud announced the NEOM city a year ago, sitting alongside SoftBank’s Son at an investment conference in Riyadh. Son described the $500 billion plan to build an automated city of self-driving cars and passenger drones from scratch as a “fantastic opportunity.”


It’s one of the centerpieces of Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, a blueprint for reshaping the kingdom’s economy by increasing foreign investment, boosting tourism and selling a stake in its giant state oil company, Aramco.


Yet the Aramco IPO has been put on hold and Saudi Arabia is facing growing international pressure over a crackdown on dissent. A recent wave of arrests has targeted clerics, journalists and human rights advocates.


Now, US intelligence is trying to determine whether the highest levels of the Saudi government were involved in the disappearance of Washington Post columnist and anti-Saudi activist Khashoggi.


The composition of the NEOM advisory board underscores the deep ties that already exist between the global tech industry and the kingdom.


Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud owns stakes in Apple (AAPL) and Twitter (TWTR) and recently acquired a 2.3% stake in Snapchat (SNAP).


Softbank and Saudi Arabia joined forces in 2016 to create the Softbank Vision Fund, raising $100 billion to spend on tech businesses. Its latest investments include $2.25 billion for GM’s (GM) self driving unit.


Saudi Arabia has also pumped billions into Uber and last month agreed to invest $1 billion in Lucid, a potential rival to Tesla (TSLA), having previously bought nearly 5% of Elon Musk’s electric carmaker.
“Each of the Advisory Board members has been carefully chosen,” the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement on Tuesday listing the members. Additional members may be appointed, it added.
Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert and former European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes have also agreed to serve on the advisory board, according to the SPA.


2018 has seen Saudi Arabia move towards modernism at a tremendous rate. The lifting of the driving ban for women, reopening of cinemas, crack down on corruption and huge investments in revolutionary technologies have seen Saudi Arabia emerge as rivals to UAE, Japan and South Korea for ultra modernism.


Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Al-Sahawat Times than ever but advertising revenues across the global media industry are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a total paywall. We want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Al-Sahawat Times’ independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe truly ethical media and an unbias perspective really matters.

“I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.”

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, the future of ethical media and the futures of our staff and their families would be much more secure. For as little as £1, you can support Al-Sahawat Times and it only takes a minute. Thank you. 


This story is available on:


Talk to a journalist



Follow Al-Sahawat Times

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Instagram
Read it on Apple News

?Read it on FLIPBOARD | Editor

Views: 0

About the Author

Francesca Webb
Official account of Francesca Webb. Canadian-Italian globetrotter, journalist and PR manager.