Richard Branson is getting involved with Saudi Arabia's mega city project

Rebecca Smith
Branson is getting involved in the $500bn Red Sea project
Branson is getting involved in the $500bn Red Sea project (Source: Getty)

It would be something of an understatement to say Richard Branson is a busy man.

But the billionaire entrepreneur has added another project to his to-do list, saying today he is getting involved with the mega city project being planned by Saudi Arabia.

"I will invest," he told an investment conference in Riyadh. "I've been asked to be... on the board of one or two of your city projects - your Red Sea Project - and am delighted to accept."

In a blog post today, Branson also said Saudi Arabia is plugging $1bn into Virgin's space firms, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company, and Virgin Orbit.

Read more: Richard Branson was almost scammed out of $5m

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia announced the $500bn (£380bn) cross-border city development project on the Red Sea. There are also plans for tourism developments on a number of Red Sea islands.

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is driving the project, called Neom, which will be a new economic zone running across Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

The plans form part of his ambition to shake up the country's economy, helping to wean it off its reliance on oil to bring in revenue.

The Neom initiative, billed as the world's "most ambitious project", will span nine different investment sectors including energy and water, food, and biotech. The kingdom's sovereign wealth fund will own Neom.

It will also look to test inventions such as passenger drones and self-learning traffic systems. The city is planned to operate as an independent economic zone, with its own laws, taxes and regulations specifically created to help boost "healthy growth and wealth for the region, investors and residents".

Earlier this month, the Virgin Group founder announced an investment in Hyperloop One by his company, renaming it Virgin Hyperloop One.

Branson said the project, which aims to move people and things "at airline speeds on the ground" was "the world's most revolutionary train service". Passengers and cargo will be loaded into a pod, and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube.

Read more: Richard Branson's Virgin just got involved in Hyperloop

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