van der hoeven will make the NEOM desert bloom


NEOM has announced a collaboration with Dutch greenhouse company Van Der Hoeven in an effort to introduce flourishing gardens amidst the arid deserts of Saudi Arabia. As the ‘city of the future’ hopes to become a self-sustaining oasis and home to millions of people, food security has become a priority for the city’s planners. The Dutch horticultural experts have been enlisted to design, build, and operate two test facilities together covering 110,000 square-meters along the city’s outskirts. With this urban farming solution, the team plans to create a controlled climate for efficient and sustainable food production. 


NEOM comprises four ‘megacities’ and is perhaps most well-known for its mirrored city THE LINE. Currently under construction, the 170 kilometer-long ‘groundscraper’ is planned to be car-free and powered by 100 percent renewable energy. The recently announced greenhouse facilities will further NEOM’s self-sustaining vision.

neom greenhouse saudi arabiaimage courtesy NEOM



dutch horticulture to arrive in saudi arabia


With Saudi Arabia’s unforgiving desert climate, NEOM‘s horticultural plans are ambitious — so teaming with the Dutch greenhouse company is a smart move. Even with its relatively small size, the Netherlands is the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter after the United States. According to the Washington Post, more than half of the European country’s land is used for agriculture. Almost 24,000 acres are occupied by highly efficient greenhouses — an area nearly double the size of Manhattan — which require just one-tenth of the land area required by traditional farming. 


This technology can offer a lot to the challenging climate of Saudi Arabia. The nation relies mainly on imports to supply its food, as local growers struggle with efficient cultivation and water shortages and the Dutch-built greenhouses require substantially less fertilizer and water. The Washington Post reports:Dutch farms use only a half-gallon of water to grow about a pound of tomatoes, while the global average is more than 28 gallons.’

neom greenhouse saudi arabia24,000 acres of the Netherlands are occupied by greenhouses | image courtesy Van Der Hoeven



established greenhouses in the gulf region


NEOM has contracted Van der Hoeven, which is itself is a global leader in the design, build, and operation of horticultural infrastructure. The company has joined the Dutch Greenhouse Delta (DGD), a foundation which aims to bring the nation’s expertise around the world in an effort to offer large-scale food production in a range of climates. The company already has an established presence in the Middle East. Van Der Hoeven sales director Bas Duijvestijn gives an example of their efforts, commenting: ‘Four years ago, we built a tomato nursery of more than 11 hectares in Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. This was the first large-scale modern greenhouse in that region.’


Duijvestijn describes his hopes for future development:It will come as no surprise that growing vegetables in the Gulf region is no simple task and makes different demands from growing them in Northwestern Europe. A hot and sometimes humid climate along with severe water shortages make growing crops here a major challengethe Gulf region offers great opportunities for producers of greenhouse technology.’

neom greenhouse saudi arabiaArmela Farms, a two-hectare glasshouse lettuce farm in the UAE built by Van Der Hoeven in 2021 | image via DGD



The team at Van Der Hoeven notes that it is possible to source water by desalinating sea water — a strategy which the planners at NEOM claim will be the main source of water for the city. In an interview with designboom, NEOM’s director of urban planning explains:The extraction of potable water from sea water is usual frowned upon because the process involves dumping the salts back into the sea. This alters the salinity of the water, and in turn the ecology of the sea. In NEOM, we have a zero-brine discharge policy, meaning the salts will be retained and used for other purposes.’

saudi arabia's desert city NEOM will grow its own crops inside dutch greenhousesVan Der Hoeven is enlisted to design, build, and operate the NEOM greenhouses | image courtesy Van Der Hoeven



project info:


greenhouse company: Van Der Hoeven

client: NEOM @discoverneom