Saudi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salman wowed the world in 2017 when he unveiled the plans for $500 billion 26,500-square-km gigaproject NEOM. This week on January 10, Sheikh Mohammed impressed once more as he revealed the next big step for his dream project: THE LINE.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), THE LINE is a 170km belt of hyper-connected future communities, without cars and roads and built around nature, and is stated to be a direct response to some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today such as legacy infrastructure, pollution, traffic, and human congestion.
“Throughout history, cities were built to protect their citizens,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “After the Industrial Revolution, cities prioritized machines, cars and factories over people. In cities that are viewed as the world’s most advanced, people spend years of their lives commuting. By 2050, commute durations will double. By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90% of people breathe polluted air.”
He continued: “Therefore, we need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one. Today, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM, I present to you THE LINE: A city of a million residents with a length of 170 km that preserves 95% of nature within NEOM, with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions.”
A major draw of the project is that all essential daily services, such as schools, medical clinics, leisure facilities, as well as green spaces, will be within a five-minute walk for citizens.
Ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions will make travel easier and give residents the opportunity to reclaim time to spend on health and wellbeing. It is expected no journey will be longer than 20 minutes.
THE LINE’s communities will be cognitive, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), continuously learning predictive ways to make life easier, creating time for both residents and businesses. An estimated 90% of available data will be harnessed to enhance infrastructure capabilities far beyond the 1% typically utilized in existing smart cities.
Construction of THE LINE will commence in the first quarter of 2021. The new city is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects in the world and forms part of extensive development work already underway at NEOM.
According to Reuters, the Crown Prince told reporters after the announcement that the project was the conclusion of three years of preparation, adding that its infrastructure would cost $100 billion to $200 billion. THE LINE will drive diversification and aims to contribute 380,000 jobs and SAR 180 billion ($48 billion) to domestic GDP by 2030.