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OXAGON, Saudi Arabia's new 100% sustainable industrial city

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces the launch of the OXAGON project, a new floating zero-emission industrial complex to be located southwest of the city of NEOM
File photo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces the construction of a zero-carbon city called "The Line" in NEOM, northwestern Saudi Arabia, 10 January 2021

PHOTO/BANDAR ALGALOUD/COURTESY OF THE SAUDI ROYAL COURT  -   File photo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces the construction of a zero-carbon city called "The Line" in NEOM, northwestern Saudi Arabia, 10 January 2021.

In 2017, Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, made public one of the various multi-million dollar initiatives that the country has promoted in recent years with the aim of modernising the Saudi kingdom. This was the creation of the futuristic mega-city of NEOM, which - located in the Tabuk Province in north-western Saudi Arabia - is expected to complete its first phase of development by 2025. 

Now, as part of the next stage of NEOM's plan, Mohammed bin Salman has announced the construction of OXAGON, which will become the world's largest floating industrial city. The octagonal-shaped complex is presented as a completely new model for designing and managing industrial activity, and is conceived as "a centre for clean and advanced industries with zero emissions", according to a Saudi official statement. 

OXAGON will be located on the Red Sea, close to the Suez Canal, strategically positioned in a region that carries around 13% of the world's trade. In addition, the complex will be designed following the same sustainability philosophy as 'The Line' city, under construction from the first quarter of 2021. These new communities will go hand in hand with the development of a sustainable industry, "providing exceptional liveability with nature, perfectly integrated into the urban environment," the statement said.  

Saudi Arabia has already announced that the OXAGON initiative is underway, and the industrial site is expected to welcome its first inhabitants by the end of next year.  

The industrial city will feature the world's first fully integrated and unified supply chain system with port, airport and rail facilities. In addition, it is planned that the only fuel used will be hydrogen, thus helping to preserve the environment, and contributing not only to economic development, but also to the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda, as Bin Salman stressed to the Saudi news agency, SPA. As such, Nadhmi al-Nasr, NEOM's executive chairman, expects the complex to position itself as "one of the most technologically advanced logistics centres in the world". 

El hijo del rey Salman, figura clave detrás de la presentación de un vasto plan para reestructurar la economía dependiente del petróleo del Reino
AFP/FAYEZ NURELDINE - King Salman's son, a key figure behind the unveiling of a sweeping plan to restructure the Kingdom's oil-dependent economy, is the son of King Salman, a key figure behind the unveiling of a sweeping plan to restructure the Kingdom's oil-dependent economy.

The core of OXAGON's industrial development will be based on seven industries driven by 100% renewable energy: "sustainable energy; autonomous mobility; water innovation; sustainable food production; health and wellness; digital technology and manufacturing (including telecommunications, space technology and robotics) and modern construction methods," the Saudi statement said.  

The industrial project is part of the Saudi Green Initiative, the net zero plan that Riyadh hopes to achieve by 2060. In this way, and working together with other Gulf states, the country has invested heavily in renewable energy. Some of the measures adopted include the allocation of 700 billion Saudi Riyals (around 165 billion euros) to the "circular carbon economy" project, and the financing of NEOM, funded with more than 440 billion euros.  

However, Saudi Arabia remains the world's second largest oil producer, behind only the United States, with an export share of close to 10% of the world's oil. In fact, the Saudi economy continues to be mainly based on this sector. More than 40% of the Kingdom's GDP is the result of oil exploitation.