NEW YORK — BCW has been hired by Saudi Arabia to handle US PR for Neom, the $500bn megacity that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has planned for the country’s Northwest coast.

Under a plan inked by Dubai-based ASDA’A BCW, the firm will be responsible for a media relations campaign aimed at garnering awareness and support for Neom, which is part of the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 reform program and plan to diversify the Saudi economy.
Duties include designing and tailoring press materials for the US, along with media outreach and monitoring.

ASDA’A started working with Neom on April 29, and will continue through Oct. 6, according to BCW’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, filing with the US government. The business is worth more than $1m, the FARA filing showed.

BCW would not comment on the work.

BCW is one of a number of agencies signing on to handle parts of Neom’s PR. Ruder Finn won  a one-year, $1.7m contract to handle CSR and sustainability efforts, and has been working on the project since late May. Teneo is another agency working on Neom.

Slated for 10,000 square miles on the Red Sea, Neom is billed as an embodiment of the new future that will draw one million inhabitants from around the world. It plans to include towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.

According to the Guardian, citing leaked strategy documents, the project may also include a huge artificial moon, glow-in-the-dark beaches, flying drone-powered taxis, robotic butlers to clean the homes of residents and a Jurassic Park-style attraction featuring animatronic lizards.

Saudi residents, however, are pushing back against the development, which would require the relocation of 20,000 people, including members of a local Bedouin tribe. In April, a member of the Huwaitat tribe was killed in a shootout when he refused to give up his land, compounding existing concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

In 2018, a number of communications and lobbying agencies with Saudi Arabian government accounts cut business ties with the Kingdom following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The project has also been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak and plummeting oil prices.