In 2017, Saudi Arabia caused a stir across the globe when it announced plans to build NEOM, a half-a-trillion-dollar, mega-city development, the likes of which the world has never seen. This week, Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced the opening of NEOM Bay Airport in the northern region of Sharma. According to various news sources, GACA released an official statement that it has given a commercial airport license to the newly built facility, which will begin operations next week.
According to Saudi Gazette, the completion of the first stage of the development works is near and the airport has already been registered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the code “NUM.” For the first phase of its operations, NEOM Bay Airport will offer regular flights for investors and employees of the NEOM project. Described by the news site as “one of the most modern and distinctive airports in the Middle East,” the facility is estimated to cover a total area of 3,643 square meters and has a hangar to accommodate as many as six aircrafts.
Created as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, NEOM is a business and industrial zone project estimated to be 33 times the size of New York. This ultra-modern metropolis envisioned as a 26,500-square kilometer project that extends along the Kingdom’s borders into Jordan and Egypt is set to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy through the use of technology and by offering a more liberal environment.
This landmark project, as well as others under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, marks a clear attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to overhaul the Kingdom’s oil revenue reliant economy, reforming it into a more diversified and privatized structure. The Crown Prince explained at the time of the project’s announcement that this zone will focus on various industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing, and even entertainment.