Nearly a year after Neom's announcement, the futuristic Saudi megacity is still only in the early stages of development. To meet goals of opening fully by 2025, planners must overcome a key challenge: shoring up funding.
Robert Mogielnicki is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is also a senior analyst with the Siwa Group and a PhD researcher at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where he specializes in the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa. He has held various senior-level consulting, strategic communications, and research positions across the Middle East and Europe and in Washington. Prior to his consulting career, he served as a journalist covering political and economic developments in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia. His work and commentary on the region have appeared in Forbes Middle East, Al Jazeera’s Inside Story, MEED, Al Bawaba, The National (UAE), Gulf Daily News, Tunisia Live, Egypt Oil and Gas Magazine, and Egypt Daily News.
Mogielnicki’s PhD dissertation examines the political economy of free zones in Gulf Cooperation Council countries. His research draws on extensive fieldwork conducted in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. He earned his MA in modern Middle Eastern studies from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and completed a master’s thesis on labor policy formulation and implementation in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He received his BA from Georgetown University as a double major in Arabic and government, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Mogielnicki specializes in Modern Standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect, and possesses a working knowledge of the Tunisian dialect. He is a former recipient of the Sultan Qaboos Arabic Language Scholarship (2007-11) and served as a Critical Language Scholar in Tunisia in 2011. Mogielnicki has lived in the UAE, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, and Jerusalem.
Ahmad bin Fahd Al-Mezyed, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Culture, used the 2018 Cannes Film Festival as a cinematic backdrop to garner international interest in the Saudi film and television industry.
During the March 25 Kuwait Investment Forum, Kuwaiti government officials reaffirmed the country’s commitment to develop the Silk City (Madinat al-Harir) megaproject and establish an integrated economic zone on five uninhabited Kuwaiti islands.
Discussions between Amazon Web Services and Saudi Arabia to establish a direct presence in the country forecast a broader commercial struggle for control over the e-commerce market in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati efforts to isolate Qatar logistically as part of the most recent Gulf Cooperation Council crisis will require a restructuring of the country’s plans for special economic zones (SEZs) – commonly known as free zones (FZs) in the rest of the GCC states.