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Economy

The Saudi City That's Shunning Oil

The world’s most petroleum-dependent country is building a city that will operate without revenue from it.    
Families walk near the Red Sea beaches of King Abdullah Economic City
Families walk near the Red Sea beaches of King Abdullah Economic CityCourtesy of KAEC

This post is part of a CityLab series on power—the political kind, the stuff inside batteries and gas tanks, and the transformative might of mass movements.

The entire world may be dependent on oil, but there’s one country with a particularly acute addiction. Saudi Arabia serves as the world’s largest oil exporter, and it’s also its twelfth-largest oil and gas consumer. With most of the kingdom’s economy based on oil, Saudi leaders have understood for years that things must change. Though the country’s oil likely won’t run out for decades, fluctuating oil prices in the meantime make it difficult to count on revenue. The IMF even warned that if prices remain low as they have for the past two years, the kingdom could run out of cash by 2020.