Bermuda can follow Saudi’s lead by building a new town

  • Saudi vision: an artist’s impression of the planned new city of Neom

    Saudi vision: an artist’s impression of the planned new city of Neom


Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is embarking on a very ambitious city project called Neom. The name means “new future”. The idea is to set a new beginning for the youth of Saudi and in reality, the world.

This project is not characterised simply by its cost of over $500 billion, rather, it’s the strategy to move Saudi from a medieval nation to that of a futuristic exemplar city state.

No matter how critical the world may be of “MBS” or the Government, his effort to reform Saudi is laudable.

For him to stand between a thousand years of hardened tradition and an entirely new world with the hope of surpassing what we consider as modernity, is not just ambitious, but is, perhaps, the best strategic alternative to transform Saudi, rather than be stuck with the timid approach of gradualism.

They are building a port town on the north western edge of Saudi to be close to global travel zones and to foster plurality.

The aim is not to produce another Arab village within Saudi, rather to create more of a global city state.

This does not mean a leaning towards western liberalism, but it is a liberal step nonetheless that caters to the idea and even the values of a pluralistic society.

In a global context, this phenomenon of developing a city to reform or remake society is not new.

It is no coincidence that we have the names New York, New England, or Nova Scotia, which means New Scotland.

The indication here is that persons were looking to build a new world with a new vision, escaping the trappings and limitations of their previous existence.

It is very difficult to change systems, given the deep patronage that develops and becomes ingrained.

Too often it is the case within societies that the political struggles are a wrestling match between the established order and those wanting access or even change.

In 1977, I tried to depart from that wrestling match and argued we needed a “New Town”, particularly after the riots which were precipitated by the hangings of Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn.

I began then the call to develop Dockyard into a new town with the hope of providing opportunity for those who had been left out.

Wedco stole that socially motivated economic potential, hence the country had to endure decades more of systemic decimation and widening of the economic gap between the haves and have not.

It’s now 40-plus years on, and my thoughts have not changed. The only or most successful strategy to bring a future of harmony is to build a new town.

The difference today, is our economy is tethered and needs revitalisation.

Also, our infrastructure is nearing the end of its era of usefulness.

The possibility exists today to build a brand new port town.

In 1977 to 1980, the country, as a result of a political decision, gave the potential of a new future back to the status quo.

If we have any hope of a new future and indeed a better future we cannot repeat the same saga.

I would encourage people everywhere in the world to help the development of the new city, Neom. The dialogue alone can spark a positive global renaissance.

Instead of war, let’s build.

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Published Feb 29, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 29, 2020 at 12:58 am)

Bermuda can follow Saudi’s lead by building a new town

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