All of a sudden, Saudis figure they’re the future of tech

saudiSaudi Arabia—a key U.S. ally in the Middle East which also happens to be an armed-to-the-teeth absolute monarchy with a record of massive human rights abuses—is planning on moving forward with a $500 billion plan for a “new city state that would also straddle Jordan and Egypt in the kingdom’s northwest,” Arab News reported

he planned 10,230 square mile (26,500 square kilometer) business zone would be home to a city called Neom, with plans for it to “be powered by solar and wind energy” and likely “have more robots than people living there,” Arab News wrote. It’s part of an ambitious strategy to transition the kingdom from its historic reliance on its oil industry; falling oil prices have not hit Saudi Arabia terribly hard due to its massive financial reserves, but it does have to diversify in the future.

“We will build the city from scratch, it will be drone-friendly and a center for the development of robotics,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, the site reported. “We want to create something different. Neom is a place for dreamers who want to create something new in the world, something extraordinary.”

Per CNBC, Saudi officials hope to raise $300 billion for the plan from a five percent privatization in state oil company Saudi Aramco, as well as letting “strategic foreign investors own more than 10 percent of listed Saudi companies.

More at Gizmodo