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Saudi Arabia’s Neom appoints Aecom to design city's transport and utilities infrastructure

Neom, a $500 billion (Dh1.84 trillion) futuristic project planned for the north of Saudi Arabia, awarded a transport and utilities infrastructure design contract to Aecom, one of the world's biggest building consultancy firms.

In addition to design services, Aecom’s scope of work also includes environmental and geotechnical support, the US-based firm said in a statement on Tuesday. The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Aecom will help Neom to create the “primary and base infrastructure” required to support the ambitious project, Brett Smythe, chief projects officer of Neom, said.

“Neom’s next generation cognitive cities will support its cutting-edge urban environments, improving the lives of residents and businesses far beyond the capabilities of today’s smart cities … it will be a beacon for future living,” he added.

Neom is the flagship project of Saudi Arabia's post-oil diversification plan known as Vision 2030 that seeks to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons. It is being overseen by the Public Investment Fund.

It is located in north-western Saudi Arabia and is set to include territory from the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, spanning a total area of 26,500 square kilometres. It will contain towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports venues, entertainment sites and tourist destinations. The bulk of construction is due to take place over the next decade, with a target of hosting one million residents by 2030.

“We are excited to be playing such a pivotal part in delivering one of the world’s largest and most complex infrastructure projects,” Lara Poloni, Aecom’s president, said.

“Our global multi-disciplinary team of experts will bring together a diverse set of skills to deliver a sustainable project that will connect communities and create thousands of jobs across Saudi Arabia,” said Ms Poloni.

As the centrepiece of Saudi Vision 2030, Neom will become one of the world’s leading destinations to attract talent, investment and drive economic change, she added.

In July last year, Aecom was also appointed to deliver project management consultancy services for the phase one of the Neom Bay project – a 45 square kilometre portion of the site that will contain thousands of residential units, leisure, retail, commercial, public and entertainment facilities.

Neom will contain areas dedicated to future technologies in sixteen sectors including biotech, food, manufacturing and technology, among others. Private sector investment in each sector is being sought for the site, which is more than 35 times the size of Singapore with over 450km of coastline.

Its contribution to the kingdom’s gross domestic product is projected to reach $100bn in the next ten years.

In order to accelerate the delivery of the site's infrastructure, Aecom will use the latest technology to deliver a 100 per cent digital design, Bill Price, programme director at Aecom, said.

“Digital tools will play a vital role in the collaborative approach and stakeholder engagement … with quickly produced visualisations that are built from live design data that is geospatial accurate,” Mr Price said.

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