Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A $500 billion megacity is planned for Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast, officials announced Tuesday at a global business conference in Riyadh.
Speaking at the opening of the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the new city, to be called Neom, "will be constructed from the ground-up ... allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years."
The prince added that the project will be backed by $500 billion from the Saudi government. About 10,000 square miles have been allocated for the plan, which includes a bridge to Egypt over the Red Sea and an urban zone said to be the world's first independent special zone to span across three countries.
Salman noted that the planned city, to be built at the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, will be situated at a point at which one-tenth of the world's trade flows. It will focus on energy, water, biotechnology, food and advanced manufacturing.
The project is part of Saudi Arabia's plan to diversify its economy in a world in which oil, its main export, is dwindling in supply and demand.
A timeline on the project was not announced.