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Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil in the world, so as you can probably imagine they’re not short of money. But now they’re turning their attention to other areas. They’re looking to expand, they’re looking to innovate, and they’re looking to grow. Sorry, I sounded very TED Talk-y, there.
Saudi Arabia are now targeting the tourism and technology sectors. They’re backed by a seemingly bottomless purse and they’re headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – a man with immense power. It’s not surprising, then, that some of their projects are so mind-blowingly ambitious that they include technology that hasn’t even been invented yet.
While these projects are underway, Saudi are also making some notable changes to their legislative processes. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some of Saudi’s most ambitious projects, and how this might affect you, or anyone else, moving to Saudi Arabia.
Neom Saudi Arabia: The New Future
The biggest of Saudi Arabia’s projects is called Neom. Although it sounds like a race car zooming past, it’s actually got a pretty interesting etymology. ‘Neo’ means new, and the ‘M’ is taken from the Arabic word mustaqbal, which means future. It also happens to be the first initial of the Crown Prince (Mohammed), so there’s extra brownie points there for whoever thought that up. Neom literally means ‘new future‘.
Neom’s a super city-state. To say it’s an ambitious project is an understatement; it’s an attempt to redefine the way humanity lives and works, and it’s estimated to cost about $500 billion. So no biggie, then.
There are a few planned sections of Neom. There’s Oxagon, an 8-sided, half-floating city on the coast that’s going to act as the region’s industrial hub. There’s Trojena – a mountainous leisure resort boasting Saudi Arabia’s first ever outdoor ski slope. And then finally there’s The Line – a city pulled straight out of a sci-fi novel.
The Line, funnily enough, is a massive line. The clue’s in the name. It’s basically two massive mirrored walls, each taller than the Empire State Building, 200m apart. They run parallel to each other through over 100 miles of desert. Jeez.
Sandwiched between these massive mirrors, in the 200m gap, is a city pulled straight out of Blade Runner. It’s like a high-tech shopping centre, with no cars or roads. It’s completely carbon neutral. Just layer upon layer of sleek looking infrastructure – housing, offices, schools, hospitals, shops, all on top of each other, stretching 500m high.
It’s split up into different modules which act as the city’s neighbourhoods. Each module houses about 80,000 people, and has all the essential amenities (retail, offices, health, leisure, culture, educational, hospitality and residential) easily accessible in a 5 minute walk. In total, The Line’s set to have 9 million residents.
Sounds great so far, but then things start to get a bit Black Mirror-y. The Line will be managed by artificial intelligence. Sensors around the city monitor everything. Data is collected from smartphones, from people’s homes, from facial recognition cameras. It’s then analysed by the AI, which studies behaviours and adapts to make the city more efficient.
If you’re thinking of moving abroad and you’ve got a keen interest in technology, it might be worth keeping an eye on The Line. It’s an ambitious project and it’s going to need a lot of manpower – as I said, they’re planning for 9 million residents. They’re going to need people to move over.
Saudi Arabia: Opening Up
Which brings me nicely onto the next section of the blog. As of the 7th December 2022, Saudi Arabia are joining the Hague Apostille Convention.
At the moment, if you’re wanting to move to Saudi Arabia, you’ll need to get all your documents legalised in a pretty lengthy process. Documents need an Apostille and a consular stamp at the Saudi embassy. If you’ve got education, or academic, documents the process gets even more complicated. They’ll also need to go to the SACB (Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau) for a stamp. That’s potentially three different places.
But things get simpler once Saudi becomes a member of the Hague Apostille Convention. It fully cuts out the Saudi embassy – you won’t need a consular stamp anymore, you’ll only need an Apostille. Big time saver. Now, as far as we know, educational documents will still need to be stamped by the SACB, but that’s not been confirmed officially – if we hear anything concrete we’ll let you know.
Even so, it’s going to get a lot easier to legalise documents for use in Saudi Arabia.
So… what does that mean?
It means that it’s going to be a lot easier to move to Saudi Arabia – and I think that pretty obviously goes hand in hand with their push to expand new sectors and build these massive, sci-fi-y projects.
Think about it – a 500 billion dollar smart-city doesn’t just pop up out of the ground, does it? They’re going to need people. I’m talking project managers, strategists, analysts, builders, construction works, cleaners, security, retail workers, teachers. It’s a full city being built from scratch. They’re going to need everyone.
And don’t forget – The Line has room to house 9 million people. To put that into perspective, the entire population of Saudi Arabia (at the time of me writing this) is just under 35 million. Unless Saudi are expecting over a quarter of their population to uproot their lives and move to The Line, it’s pretty clear that they’re looking to encourage people to move over.
So, y’know. If you’re looking for an adventure or to start a new chapter in your life, Saudi Arabia might be worth keeping an eye on – especially if you’ve got an interest in technology and projects worthy of Bond villains.
Although legalisation is getting easier, it’s still a bit of a pain – especially with educational documents. They still need to go to the SACB, and every document still needs to go to the FCDO. We can take care of that for you – don’t waste your own time faffing about down to London getting it sorted. Send us your documents and we’ll do it for you!
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