Last week I participated in a panel during the Future Investment Initiative. Special thanks to Bassem Awadallah, CEO Tomoh Advisory, who served as moderator, and my fellow panelists Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, Founder and Chairman of Emaar Properties; Josh Giegel, Co-Founder and CTO of Virgin Hyperloop; and Matt Harris, Founding Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners. I specifically got the chance to talk about what infrastructure investment should look like post-pandemic.
During this panel, I shared that Bechtel is proud to partner on the NEOM project in Saudi Arabia. This project is about building the city of the future and has the potential to be one of the most transformative projects ever undertaken.
NEOM highlights three major areas that I believe will be at the center of the post-pandemic infrastructure wave. The first is clean energy. NEOM will build a 100% renewable energy system, use a smart electric grid, and commercialize clean energy industries, such as green hydrogen. The second area is digital infrastructure, enabling autonomous vehicles, high-speed transit, and other smart city applications. The third area is water infrastructure, including technologies for desalination and wastewater treatment. Once scaled, these will create examples for the world to follow.
There are also two areas of reform that are especially crucial on large-scale projects. One is the need for an appropriate sharing of risks between the public and private sectors. For these partnerships to work on large-scale projects, everyone has to focus on what it means to be a good partner.
The second area is getting the best value for the public – instead of just the lowest cost. Too often, social and environmental benefits are not valued in procurement processes. As a result, the cheapest solution usually wins over an option that would ultimately provide the public more value over its full life cycle.
The post-pandemic period will be an opportunity to rethink the type of infrastructure we should invest in and how we go about these mega-projects in the future. We’re excited to do our part at Bechtel to make these mega-projects of the future a reality.
My thanks to the Future Investment Initiative for inviting me to join!