The first phase of the Neom Bay development will be delivered on a fast-track basis after the founding board of the $500bn Neom project approved its strategic concept.

The Neom founding board, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, also gave instructions to complete preparations and start construction work in the first quarter of 2019, according to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency website.

It added that the first phase of Neom Bay will be completed in 2020, and several key facilities will be completed by the end of this year – including an upgrade to the existing airport at Sharma.

It is understood that firms have been approached to complete buildings with a total built-up area of about 240,000 square metres at Neom Bay on a design-and-build basis.

Consultants have also been tendering for project management as well as design and supervision roles on the early stages of the Neom project.

MEED reported in 2017 that the UK’s Buro Happold was appointed programme manager.

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