RIYADH- Saudi Arabia has set up a closed joint-stock company, called NEOM, that aims to develop a $500 billion economic zone and which will be owned by the government's Public Investment Fund, the state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

NEOM is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 plan that aims to attract foreign investment and create jobs in a bid to wean the kingdom off reliance on oil.

The new legal status of NEOM will enable the company to create 16 key economic areas, including energy, manufacturing and tourism, SPA said.

The 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) high-tech hub, first revealed in 2017, will include high-tech projects powered by wind and solar energy and sports halls, concert facilities and restaurants.

Saudi Arabia said this month it planned to start developing the first area of NEOM in the first quarter of 2019.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair) ((marwa.rashad@thomsonreuters.com; +966114632603 ; Reuters Messaging: marwa.rashad.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))