Royal Dream: City Branding and Saudi Arabia’s NEOM
In 2017, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia announced the new mega-city NEOM. The city is envisioned to be a “start-up the size of a country”, and it aims at attracting the “best talents”, offering them “technology with livability at its core.” The paper foregrounds city branding to understand what NEOM is all about: its imagined society and proposed governance. It further explores how city branding strategies position NEOM and the Kingdom regionally and globally and reaffirm the Crown Prince’s power. It also questions the conceptual nature of the branded object itself, as branding documents show that NEOM alternates between being a city, a start-up, a country, and the Crown Prince’s legacy.
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