Saudi Arabia's Shameless Perspective On 2030

Todd Moses
May 10, 2024

Saudi forces have forced as many as 6,000 people out of their homes to make way for the kingdom's planned city, shooting anyone who tried to resist eviction.

Inputs that matter: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has described the area as a "blank canvas," perfect for realizing Saudi Arabia's vision of a planned high-tech city called The Line, but a BBC investigation found that the homes, schools, and hospitals of three villages were completely erased from the map in the last five years.

  • Rabih Alenezi, a Saudi ex-intelligence officer, recalled the order to clear villagers advised that "whoever continues to resist [eviction] should be killed, so it licensed the use of lethal force against whoever stayed in their home."
  • Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500bn (£399bn) eco-region, is part of its Saudi Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to diversify the kingdom's economy from oil.
  • Neom claims to be a "blueprint for tomorrow in which humanity progresses without compromising the planet's health."

The opportunity: Covering a total area of over 26,500 sq km (10,230 sq miles)—larger than Kuwait or Israel—Neom will, developers claim, exist entirely outside the confines of the current Saudi judicial system, governed by an autonomous legal system that will be drafted up by investors.

  • Much like Barcelona's traffic-free "superblocks," he explains that each square will be self-sufficient and contain amenities such as shops and schools, so anything people need will be a five-minute walk or cycle away.
  • The "giga-project" is part of the crown prince's vision of a greener Saudi Arabia.
  • A week before the COP26 climate change negotiations, he also launched the Saudi Green Initiative, announcing a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2060.

Zoom in: The energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, reportedly said the Saudis wouldn't stop pumping: "We are still going to be the last man standing, and every hydrocarbon molecule will come out."

  • Oil prices have pulled back sharply in May, posting their steepest weekly loss in three months.
  • The oil price selloff appears to have been triggered by a return of demand pessimism, thanks to last week's report by the EIA showing a 7.3M-barrel build in U.S. crude stocks, the largest weekly increase since February and the recent revelation by the United Arab Emirates that it had raised production capacity.

Between the lines: Meanwhile, North Korea's state media claimed Sunday that an expansion of the so-called emerging BRICS nations could challenge and eventually speed up the end of the U.S. dollar's domination.

  • In an article carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, Jong Il-hyon, a North Korean international affairs analyst, criticized the U.S. for using the dollar and its military might as a means of "hegemonism."
  • "The unprecedented international moves to limit the use of the dollar and the tendency of many countries to join BRICS are accelerating the end of the dollar as a key currency and the end of the U.S. hegemonism under it," the analyst said.

Follow the money: According to Bloomberg, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's project will be reduced by 98% to just one-and-a-half miles and home to just 300,000 people by 2030, rather than 1.5 million.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports today, citing two employees familiar with the plans, that the first 1.5 miles of The Line alone are estimated to cost more than $100 billion.
  • As Saudi Arabia touted the finished project's sustainability credentials, researchers identified the construction project as one of the 15 most pressing conservation issues to watch in 2024.
  • It is part of the Crown Prince's overall 'Vision 2030' scheme to reshape his oil-dependent country's economy and image.

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