The reality of spending $500 billion to build a city in the desert is starting to hit home for Saudi officials

The reality of spending $500 billion to build a city in the desert is starting to hit home for Saudi officials
The planned design for The Line in Neom.Neom
  • Saudi Arabia's vision for its sprawling Neom project has always been hugely ambitious — and costly.
  • The financial realities have started to cause concern within the government, Bloomberg reported.

Saudi Arabia's plan for its $500 billion futuristic city, Neom, is as ambitious as it gets.

The project's finances may prove a sticking point, though, since the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund has yet to approve Neom's budget for 2024, Bloomberg reported.

The Gulf kingdom has significantly reduced estimates for the number of people expected to settle in The Line.

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The Bloomberg report said the realities of the trillion-dollar investments in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 project, of which Neom is the centerpiece, were starting to cause alarm at the highest level of the country's government.

Representatives for Neom did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider made outside normal working hours.


Saudi Arabia has been developing the megacity since 2017 in a desert bordering the Red Sea. The nation has previously pledged at least $500 billion to make it happen and is seeking further investment.

The city is part of Crown Prince Mohammed's Vision 2030 project, which aims to revolutionize Saudi society and reduce the nation's dependence on oil with a pivot toward tech. Saudi officials have long touted the project as "the world's most ambitious."

On its website, Neom officials describe the megacity as a place where residents will be able to "dream big."

However, the recent pullback has led to at least one contractor starting to dismiss workers employed on the site, Bloomberg reported, citing a document. This spells bad news for would-be residents looking to follow their dreams.

This came after officials said that some of the projects outlined in the Vision 2030 plan would be delayed, the Bloomberg report said.

Experts have raised ethical issues about the plans for the new city, with some concerned the city could become part of a sweeping surveillance program. Others have raised ethical objections about the strict rules around criticizing the project.