IMF Endorses Saudi Plan for $500-Billion Business Zone

New York Times, Oct 31, 2017
by Reuters

DUBAI — The International Monetary Fund has endorsed an ambitious Saudi Arabian plan to build a $500-billion (378.56 billion pounds) business and industrial zone extending into Jordan and Egypt, saying the project could benefit the whole region.

Jihad Azour, head of the IMF's Middle East department, said Riyadh would need to balance the huge cost of the zone and other economic projects with its drive to cut a big state budget deficit caused by low oil prices.

But the plan to develop the zone, known as NEOM, could stimulate trade and allow the Middle East to capitalise on its location as a bridge between Asia and Europe, Azour said in an interview.

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