Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled his latest vision for Saudi Arabia’s future beyond oil, which is a city with no cars, roads or carbon emissions.
In a televised speech the crown prince said that the 170 kilometer long (106 mile-long) development called “The Line” will be part of the $500 billion project called “Neom.” Construction of the city is planned to start in the first quarter.
Neom is the crown jewel of Prince Mohammed’s plan to diversify the economy of the world’s largest crude exporter. Announced in 2017, the project spans more than 10,000 square miles in a remote area of the country’s northwest. It’s described on its website as “a bold and audacious dream” that will become a hub for new technologies and businesses. The project has been plagued by skepticism and political controversy since its launch. Analysts question if it’s realistic and can attract the investment needed.
Development without compromising quality of life
The Line was described in the news release as a walkable “belt of hyper-connected future communities, without cars and roads and built around nature.” It was said that by 2030, the city will have 1 million residents and will create 380,000 jobs and is in line with kingdom’s Vision 2030. The infrastructure, the crown prince said, will cost $100 billion to $200 billion.
“The backbone of investment in The Line will come from the $500 billion support to Neom by the Saudi government, PIF and local and global investors over 10 years,” the prince said referring to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The announcement shows the extent to which Prince Mohammed is thinking about life after oil for the kingdom, which earned over half of government revenue from crude in 2020. The project was the first major development to be announced within Neom.
“By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising Carbon dioxide emissions and sea levels. 90 percent of people breathe polluted air. 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 project is a direct response to some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity, such as infrastructure, pollution, traffic and human congestion, NEOM said.
Technology and clean energy
Construction of the revolutionary city will preserve 95 percent of nature within NEOM. The Line’s communities will be cognitive and powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) which will facilitate communication with humans, thus saving residents and companies’ time. The city will also comprise carbon-positive urban developments powered by completely clean energy.
No journey within The Line will be longer than 20 minutes, claims the Crown Prince. The city would be built around “ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions.”
It aims to enhance the quality of life and ensures access to all essential facilities like healthcare centers, schools, and other amenities. Entertainment, plus green spaces within a 5-minute walk, and high-speed transportation solutions will make commuting further easier.