Will business leaders boycott Mohammed bin Salman's flagship NEOM project?

Will business leaders boycott Mohammed bin Salman's flagship NEOM project?
Pressure is on a group of business leaders who make up the NEOM advisory board to withdraw their support for Mohammed bin Salman's flagship enterprise for Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
12 October, 2018
NEOM is Mohammed bin Salman's flagship project [AFP]

Leading business figures are under pressure to withdraw their support from a flagship enterprise of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last week.

NEOM is a centrepiece of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious economic reforms for the kingdom, a huge $500 billion cross-border Red Sea city that Riyadh hopes will generate revenues in a post-oil age.

Although the first phase of NEOM has been slated for completion in 2025, an advisery council has been established that includes some of the biggest names in business, finance, science and industry.

It includes Lord Norman Foster, one of the world's foremost architects, and Neelie Kroes, former Vice President of the European Commission.

Following the suspected murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, a number of well-known figures have boycotted Saudi Arabia until questions can be answered about the fate of the journalist.

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Virgin boss Richard Branson said on Thursday that he was suspending two multi-million dollar investment deals in Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

The New York Times, Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi and others have pulled out of a major investment conference due to take place in Riyadh later this month, dubbed "Davos in the Desert".

Former US Energy Minister Ernest J. Moniz has also pulled out of the Global Advisory Board for NEOM over the Khashoggi case. 

Questions now surround the participation over other members of the board, following the suspected murder of the Saudi journalist due to his criticism of Mohammed bin Salman.

NEOM's Advisory Board members:

Sam Altman, President of YC Group and Co-Chairman of Open AI. Altman

Marc Andreessen, Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz

Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO

Timothy Collins, Founder and CEO of Ripplewood Advisors, LLC

Alexandra Cousteau, Senior Advisor to Oceana

Dan Doctoroff, Founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs

Lord Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman of Foster + Partners

Jean Fréchet, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry;

Travis Kalanick, CEO of City Storage Systems

Neelie Kroes, Former Vice President of the European Commission

Andrew Liveris, Former Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical and Executive Chairman of DowDuPont;

Marc Raibert, Founder and CEO of Boston Dynamics;

Carlo Ratti, Professor of Urban Technologies and Planning Director at MIT’s Senseable City Lab;

John Rossant, Founder and Chairman at the NewCities Foundation;

Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp;

Rob Speyer, President and CEO of Tishman Speyer;

Peter R. Voser, Chairman of ABB Group.