Still more about the Saudi robot utopia known as NEOM: Klaus Kleinfeld, the former CEO of Siemens and US engineering firm Arconic, tapped by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to head NEOM, comes with some baggage. Kleinfeld arrives at Saudi Westworld after a controversial exit from Arconic over a fight with activist investor Elliott Management Corp., and Siemens, leaving in the wake of a bribery probe, Bloomberg reports.
A likely hiccup to the city: Building a bridge across the Red Sea connecting Egypt with NEOM might require signoff from Israel, Jonathan Ferziger writes for Bloomberg. “Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt guarantees it access to the Red Sea’s Straits of Tiran, which the planned bridge and causeway would cross. That makes Israel’s involvement in the project crucial, says Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies & Diplomacy at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.” Meital says “there couldn’t be anything close to this unless Israel and the Saudis had the opportunity to discuss in detail their relations and this bridge … There have to have been back channels.”
You can get more on Neom from our coverage yesterday, including a link to the project’s website.
Or you can tap or click here to learn instead about Sophia, the first robot to receive Saudi citizenship. We’re really not making this up, folks. There’s a video.
Meanwhile, Saudi energy company ACWA Power plans to invest USD 4 bn in renewable energy projects in 2018 in Egypt, Dubai, Jordan and Morocco, company chairman Mohammad Abunayyan said on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. The company hopes to finance 80% of the plan with from debt and the rest from equity, Abunayyan added. ACWA Power is also expected to list shares through an IPO in either 3Q2018 or 4Q2018, he said in the interview. ACWA Power is an active participants in Egypt’s feed-in tariff program in Benban, with its most recent project being the development of three solar plants with China’s CHINT Solar and Egypt’s Al Tawakol Electrical with funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
On the topic of Saudi investments in Egypt, remember that SAR 60 bn investment fund Saudi pledged to invest in Egypt during King Salman’s state visit in 2016? Well apparently Investment Minister Sahar Nasr, who is in Riyadh, has begun talks to revive the fund, sources tell Al Mal.
In other bombastic Saudi announcements, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s main sovereign wealth fund, wants to nearly double in size to USD 400 bn by 2020 as part of the kingdom’s efforts to boost private-sector growth, according to Reuters. PIF is expected to receive proceeds from the planned Aramco.