When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced on Tuesday a $500 billion "Smart City" project to be located a few kilometers from the Zionist port of Eilat, he mentioned establishing a joint economic zone with Jordan and Egypt.
A number of ‘Israeli' companies are talking to the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia about developing the proposed 26,500-sq.km. "Smart City" zone, according to The Jerusalem Post, a blow to the decades-long Arab League boycott of the Zionist entity.
The wealth fund is owned and controlled by Saudi Arabia.
Nicknamed NEOM - from neo [new in Latin] and the first letter of "mostqabal," an Arabic word meaning "future" - the "Smart City" would host hi-tech companies working in a range of fields, including solar energy, water, biotechnology, robotics and food technology, all of which are fields where ‘Israeli' start-ups and firms are more established than competitors in Arab countries.
Due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the project, no ‘Israeli' company could go public with details of the contact with the Saudi fund, which has some $230b. in assets under management, Reuters reported.
"The Saudis are not so willing to cooperate with the ‘Israelis' formally, but when a VC [venture capital firm] is coming from the private sector, it's much easier to create all kinds of cooperation on water, energy, ag-tech, foodtech. This is the stuff that the prince of Saudi Arabia wants to promote in the smart city," said a source in ‘Israeli' venture capital who is familiar with the project.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post has seen correspondence between Arab diplomats and ‘Israeli' businessmen confirming that talks are ongoing over economic cooperation, and a number of ‘Israeli' companies are already selling cybersecurity tools to the Saudi government.
Many of the ‘Israeli' companies would be able to publicly operate - and the ‘Israeli' government could openly cooperate with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt - if a diplomatic breakthrough with the Palestinians were to emerge, said an ‘Israeli' businessman who is intimately familiar with the Smart City project.
In the meantime, the ‘Israeli' firms will be forced to operate under the table as they compete for billion-dollar contracts.
The zone is adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, and close to the Suez Canal, a major shipping terminal. Picked to run the NEOM project is Klaus Kleinfeld, the former CEO of American aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc. and previously CEO of German engineering company Siemens AG.
Source: The Jerusalem Post, Edited by website team