Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM, announced the launch of "THE LINE" in the city of NEOM, a new model for the future of urban societies aimed at ensuring balance with nature.
THE LINE is a new 170-kilometer (km) belt of hyper-connected communities, designed without cars or roads and in concert with nature. The communities will be powered by artificial intelligence technology designed to learn and improve the lives of residents and businesses.
The project is part of NEOM and the Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan, an ambitious program designed to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy. THE LINE will generate around 380,000 job opportunities and contribute 180 billion riyals ($48 billion) to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, according to a statement.
“Throughout history, cities were built to protect their citizens. 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 percent of people breathe polluted air," the Crown Prince said in the statement.
“Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution? Why should we lose one million people every year due to traffic accidents? And why should we accept wasting years of our lives commuting?” the Crown Prince added.
"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 percent of nature within NEOM, with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions."
One of the largest airports in the world
Nadhmi al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, later told Al Arabiya that THE LINE would also involve construction of a new airport, and that it would be one of the largest in the world.
“Three years ago, the Saudi Crown Prince launched the initial vision of NEOM, a dream back in 2017. The world has been asking what we have been doing over the course of the last three years. We worked for more than two years to change this dream and vision into a set of strategical plans. The team worked with experts from all around in the world to ensure that this vision is turned into strategies,” al-Nasr added.
THE LINE has also been designed to redefine the concept of urban development, putting people at the center, instead of road infrastructure – a first for such a project in 150 years.
Rather than normal city commutes, ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions have been designed to reduce travel time, and make it easier for residents to focus on their health. The longest journey in the development is expected to take no longer than 20 minutes, according to the statement.
With sustainability at the heart of the NEOM project, THE LINE will be 100 percent powered by clean energy, for a pollution-free, cleaner, and more sustainable environment.
Construction is set to get underway in the first quarter of this year as part of ongoing development work at the NEOM site.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of NEOM project in 2017. The city is positioned to become a high-tech, next generation city, and global center for innovation, trade and creativity in the Kingdom.
The first three characters of the projects name, NEO, are derived from the Latin word for “new,” while the last character, M, is an abbreviation of the Arabic word “Mostaqbal,” meaning “future”.
NEOM is one of Saudi Arabia’s mega-projects, other examples include the Red Sea Development Project and Qiddiya, all aimed at boosting the Kingdom’s tourism sector – a central tenant of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan that aims to transform the country’s economy for a post-hydrocarbon age.
The city’s 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) development is located in the northwestern Tabuk Province and will span from Saudi Arabia’s Egyptian and Jordanian borders, rendering NEOM the first private zone to span to three countries. More than $500 billion has been pledged to complete the project by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, on of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM,