Saudi Arabia to develop world’s largest floating industrial city

Saudi Arabia has announced its plan to develop the world’s largest floating industrial city, named Oxagon, forming the next phase of Neom’s masterplan and representing a radical new model for future manufacturing centre.

Comprising a large area in the southwest corner of Neom, the core urban environment of Oxagon is centred around the integrated port and logistics hub that will house the majority of the city’s anticipated residents.

Neom explained that the octagonal design of Oxagon minimises impact on the environment and provides optimal land usage, with the remainder open to preserve 95% of the natural environment. A defining feature of the city is the world’s largest floating structure, which will become a centre for Neom’s Blue Economy and achieve sustainable growth.

“Oxagon will be the catalyst for economic growth and diversity in Neom and the Kingdom, further meeting our ambitions under Vision 2030,” said His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Neom Company board of directors.

“Oxagon will contribute to redefining the world’s approach to industrial development in the future, protecting the environment while creating jobs and growth for Neom. It will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s regional trade and commerce, and support creating a new focal point for global trade flows. I am pleased to see that business and development have started on the ground and we look forward to the city’s rapid expansion.”

Neom is a new region being built in northwestern Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. It will include research centre, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations. As a hub for innovation and living laboratory, Neom is expected to attract entrepreneurs, business leaders and companies from around the world to research, incubate, and commercialise new technologies and enterprises in “groundbreaking ways.”

‘Global benchmarks for advanced technologies’

Oxagon will establish the world’s first fully integrated port and supply chain ecosystem for Neom. The port, logistics and rail delivery facility will be unified, providing world-class productivity levels with net-zero carbon emissions, setting global benchmarks in the adoption of technology and environmental sustainability, revealed Neom.

The agile and integrated physical and digital supply chain and logistics system will allow for real-time planning, resulting in secure on-time delivery, efficiency and cost-effectiveness for industry partners.

At Oxagon’s core will be the adoption of the most advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), human-machine fusion, artificial and predictive intelligence, and robotics, all of which are coupled to a network of fully automated distribution centre and autonomous last-mile delivery assets to drive Neom’s ambitions of creating a seamless integrated, intelligent and efficient supply chain.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Neom, said, “Through Oxagon, there will be a fundamental shift in how the world views manufacturing centre. What encourages us is to see the enthusiasm of a number of our partners who have shown eagerness to start their projects in Oxagon. These pioneers of change will establish factories, developed with the latest technologies in artificial intelligence, to achieve a significant leap for this era into the fourth industrial revolution.”

Powered by renewable energy

The “net-zero” city will be powered by 100% clean energy, said Neom. Seven sectors form the nucleus of Oxagon’s industrial development, with innovation and new technology creating a vital base for them.

These seven sectors are: sustainable energy; autonomous mobility; water innovation; sustainable food production; health and well-being; technology and digital manufacturing (including telecommunications, space technology and robotics); and modern methods of construction. All of them will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

Neom also shared that the urban landscape of Oxagon will incorporate many features of The Line (another urban development in Neom). Communities will be walkable, or via hydrogen-powered mobility. Sustainable industry will be built around the communities, minimising commute time and providing excellent liveability with nature seamlessly integrated into the urban environment.

In addition, Oxagon will create a truly circular economy with a collaborative environment built around research and innovation. Its innovation campus will host the education, research and innovation (ERI) ecosystem to rival established global centres.

According to Neom, the development of Oxagon is well underway and designs are in progress for the large manufacturing facilities. These facilities consist of the world’s largest green hydrogen project involving Air Products, ACWA Power and Neom in a tri-partite venture; the world’s largest and most advanced modular building construction factory with Gulf Modular International; and the largest hyperscale data centre in the region, a joint venture between FAS Energy and Neom.

Oxagon is scheduled to welcome its first manufacturing tenants at the beginning of 2022.

All images: Oxagon/Neom