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Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

Naming ‘NEOM’: From 2000 names to the magical ‘M’

Naming ‘NEOM’: From 2000 names to the magical ‘M’

Inspired by the future, NEOM comes as a megacity beyond imagination where people’s health and well-being are being prioritized over transportation and infrastructure as in traditional cities and environment that are made free from roads, cars, and emissions.
The story of the megacity that Saudi Arabia is building in the northwest of the country had drawn attention in many aspects but the name of “NEOM” has always been a question.

Anyone who works at NEOM can tell you it simply represents the future and the vision of its founder. But let’s get into more details on how this name was chosen for the project of the century.

According to the official website of NEOM, Crown Prince and Chairman of the NEOM Board of Directors Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussed and deliberated with members of the project’s Founding Board - in addition to experts and specialists in the field - about an appropriate name for such a project with a global outlook.

When the board held its first meetings to address related topics, among the agenda items was the search for a name that represents the identity and symbolism of this dream project, as the Crown Prince saw that the name expresses the cultural and civilizational dimension of the universality of the project. A series of discussions were circulated about the significance of the name and how it should reflect the project’s global identity, human dimension, and remarkable ambition.

The actual name designation journey began by defining criteria, qualities, and conditions, all of which bear a clear and firm vision for selection; then, sorting and testing the lists of names proposed by the consulting team. The list included 2,000 names, which was further reduced - as per the standards and requirements - to 150 names and then reduced again to five names. However, none of them was chosen or agreed upon.

During the discussions of the Founding Board, some members considered giving the project the name of Prince Mohammed, chairman of the board, either directly or by incorporating his name within the project name. As such, two names were suggested: "NEOVIA MBS" and "NMBS," but the opinions of the members were split. The team that was not in favor clarified that the Crown Prince, the chairman of the Board, leads major national projects, and the Crown Prince being chairman of NEOM Board of Directors is sufficient to deliver a message to the world that reflects the direct connection of the Crown Prince to the project. They did, however, support Prince Mohammed's principal idea that the name should be neither Eastern nor Western, and also not belong to a specific language or culture, in addition to being neutral and rather open to the entire world.

The Board members then brainstormed for words representing the project sectors and its basic pillars. What followed was choosing the initials of those sectors and merging them to obtain a distinctive name that preserves the identity of the project, and this resulted in the name "NEO MSTACBEL," whose initials MSTACBEL symbolize the main project sectors, such as media, sport, technology, and energy.

And then the word was abbreviated and symbolized by the letter M, meaning "Mim" in Arabic as a symbol for two words: It is the first letter of the Arabic word for future (mustaqbal) and also the first letter of the name of Prince "Mohammed" bin Salman. Then the letter "M" was merged with the word "NEO" from the Greek language, which means new, to form the name that constitutes the beacon of change in the world. The name "NEOM" was henceforth formed and agreed upon unanimously by the Board.

Thus, the name NEOM was formed with the approval and endorsement of the Founding Board as the official name of the project; a true reflection of NEOM's vision and the reality that will be achieved - God willing - to contribute to building a promising future for new generations. From that moment on, the lights of NEOM have pierced the sky, heralding luminous dawn, a promising future, and rich life in a land built by man for the sake of all humanity.
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