The chief environment officer at the futuristic $500 billion mega business and tourism project, Richard Bush, told Al Arabiya English in an exclusive interview that Saudi Arabia’s NEOM will be a global blueprint for going green and will put the Kingdom on the map for turning the vision of sustainable living into a reality.
NEOM includes the luxury yachting destination Sindalah, the vertical metropolis THE LINE, the mountain resort of Trojena, and the business hub Oxagon. All of these locations will be powered solely by clean, renewable energy.
Bush, who oversees the sustainability elements of the Kingdom’s mega project, said NEOM will demonstrate to the world “remarkable frontiers for the future of humanity” and what is possible in the realm of sustainability.
“The area where NEOM is being developed is the perfect place to turn the vision of sustainable living into a reality,” he said.
“Firstly, it’s a greenfield site, enabling us to build the infrastructure that we need as opposed to being encumbered by existing assets and to use the most optimal sustainable construction materials. Secondly, NEOM’s location is perfectly optimized to create clean energy from wind and solar,” he said.
According to Bush, advancements in technology are enabling humanity to build sustainable settlements in traditionally challenging environments, such as Saudi Arabia’s desert regions.
“Technological advancements mean that locations that were traditionally challenging to build in – areas of heat and limited water – are becoming viable options,” he explained. “More than that, these options have the ability to become remarkable frontiers for the future of humanity.”
To cite an example, Bush mentioned transformations in desalination techniques to ensure a water supply that does not necessitate groundwater extraction. “Our advanced water management techniques will also positively impact other sectors,” he added.
For instance, 100 percent of wastewater will be recycled and harvested for cellulose, nutrients, grit, and biogas, which are used in landscaping, agriculture, energy, and construction.
Also, seasonal stormwater runoff will be retained and allowed to return to the land through the development of wetlands and other retention methods.
“People have been living here in the NEOM region for millennia,” said Bush. “However, technological developments enable us now to create urban dwellings that offer more comfort, minimized energy usage and reduced impact on the environment. Due to population growth and climate change, we must learn to make better use of space and resources.”