While the pro-government media channels try desperately to promote Neom as a serious competitor to Dubai as an economic capital in the region, especially with the activities of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar next year, many international companies became in an urgent need to intensify their activities in the region.
Saudi Arabia is betting on the city of Neom to be a foothold for these companies, however, the most worrying issue for businessmen is the extent to which their privacy is preserved and not violated, which Saudi Arabia does not have a good reputation for at all.
Reports revealed unprecedented programs to collect data for all future residents of the city, which Bin Salman said will be managed by artificial intelligence, and funded by the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia along with the new investors.
In an interview with Zednet, the head of the technical and digital sciences sector in the NEOM city project, Joseph Bradley, said that NEOM administration is working hard to collect up to 90% of the data on the population and the targeted smart infrastructure in NEOM, which raised eyebrows. He added that all current cities do not target more than 1% of that data targeted by NEOM.
The press office of the NEOM project refused to comment on the statements made by the head of the technical and digital sciences sector in the NEOM project, Joseph Bradley, and the “Business Insider” website commented on Joseph’s statements saying that it is how NEOM works.
Joseph added that the data collection will be done through a modern operating system called Neos, which creates a unique identification number for each resident and would process the data through heart rate monitors, phones, face recognition cameras, bank details, and IoT devices around the new city.
He went on to say that although this process is a pre-emptive step for NEOM, some people still fear it, as they consider it is a severe digital intrusion.
Press reports stressed that this situation heralds the bad conditions of life in the city of Neom, which is supposed to attract technology lovers.
Joseph clarified that “the individual’s right to privacy is guaranteed, but the ability to use this information is directly linked to the services they receive.”
The question is, why is NEOM administration trying to collect all this data for those wishing to reside in it in the future?