Royal Dream: City Branding and Saudi Arabia’s NEOM


  • Hend Aly Graduate Student, University of Copenhagen



New City, Branding, Creative, Corporatization, Urban Development, Saudi Arabia, NEOM


In 2017, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia announced the new mega-city NEOM. The city is envisioned to be a “start-up the size of a country”, and it aims at attracting the “best talents”, offering them “technology with livability at its core.” The paper foregrounds city branding to understand what NEOM is all about: its imagined society and proposed governance. It further explores how city branding strategies position NEOM and the Kingdom regionally and globally and reaffirm the Crown Prince’s power. It also questions the conceptual nature of the branded object itself, as branding documents show that NEOM alternates between being a city, a start-up, a country, and the Crown Prince’s legacy.


Hend Aly, Graduate Student, University of Copenhagen

is an MA student in the 4Cities Erasmus Mundus master’s in Urban Studies program. Previously, she acquired a master’s degree in political science with a thesis on the discrepancies in citizenship practice between residents of informal areas and gated communities in Cairo. In her research, she is interested in bringing the political and the urban together to understand state-society relations within the city. Her current research focuses on constructing knowledge about informal areas through censuses, specifically in Cairo, as well as politics around urban mega-projects in the Balkans, particularly in Belgrade and Tirana.





Aly, H. „Royal Dream: City Branding and Saudi Arabia’s NEOM“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 12, Nr. 1, Juni 2019, S. 99-109, doi:10.17192/meta.2019.12.7937.