Oxagon ...set to host a first-of-its-kind selective desalination plant powered 100 per cent by renewable energy.

Keller, one of the world’s largest geotechnical specialist contractors headquartered in Germany, has secured a major piling contract for ‘The Line’ – a 170-km belt of hyper-connected future communities without cars and roads and built around nature – being developed within Saudi Arabia’s futuristic $500-billion city Neom.

Confirming the order, Keller said it is one of a small number of geotechnical contractors to have been selected to undertake work on the prestigious Neom project in the Tabuk Province.

The company has signed an umbrella framework agreement with respect to the project, and is mobilising for an anticipated first works order on a portion of Module 40 which has an expected value to Keller of around £50 million ($61.3 million), with the work targeted to be completed within the next 12 months.

According to Keller, the first element of the Neom project is ‘The Line’, starting in the west at the Gulf of Aqaba, continuing through the Sharma Valley and terminating at the Neom International Airport within the upper valley region.

The Line is subdivided into approximately 135 modules, each containing eight buildings founded on large-diameter bored piles.  Further works orders are expected to be awarded later in the year on subsequent modules, it stated.

Keller pointed out that it had a longstanding presence in Saudi Arabia and was delighted to have been invited to participate in Neom.

"Following the signing of the framework agreement we are very well positioned to participate in the future geotechnical work, with the potential to generate contract revenues in the hundreds of million pounds in future years," said a company spokesman.

Last month, Neom also awarded drill and blast tunnelling contracts to accelerate work on the region’s infrastructure, to joint ventures of Spanish construction giant FCC Construction and South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corporation.

The FCC Construction JV partners include SA/China State Construction Engineering Corporation/Shibh Al-Jazira Contracting Company, while Samsung C&T Corporation partners are Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company and Saudi Archirodon Company.

 These two joint venture groups will undertake the project, which is separated by lower and upper geographies.

 The tunnels work will extend over 28 km in length and provide separate tunnels for high-speed and freight rail services.

 Among other deals concluded recently for work at the futuristic city, Enowa, the energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary of Neom, said it signed a MoU with Japanese trading company Itochu, and French water, waste and energy management solutions specialist Veolia for a joint collaboration to develop a first-of-its-kind selective desalination plant powered by 100 per cent renewable energy within Neom’s advanced manufacturing and innovation city – Oxagon.

Set to produce its early-water in 2024, the new facility will be key to realising Enowa’s ambitions to create a sustainable, abundant water supply for residential, industrial, and commercial use. The new state-of-the-art plant will use advanced membrane technology to produce separate brine streams.

The new plant will meet the water needs of Neom with a production capacity of 500,000 cu m of desalinated water per day by project completion in 2025, approximately 30 per cent of Neom’s projected total water demand.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that Neom is planning to build twin towers standing 500-m tall that stretch horizontally for dozens of kilometres. Citing senior sources, the report said the plan is a shift from the concept announced last year of building a string of developments linked by underground hyper-speed rail, into a long continuous structure.

The towers would house a mix of residential, retail and office space running from the Red Sea coast into the desert, the souces said, asking not to be identified.

Designers were instructed to work on “a half mile-long prototype”, reported Bloomberg citing sources.

“If it goes forward in full, each structure would be larger than the world’s current biggest buildings, most of which are factories or malls rather than residential communities,” they stated.

Neom, the brainchild of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, was announced in 2017 to turn a remote region of the country into a high-tech semi-autonomous state that re-imagines urban life.