THE LINE: A future awe-inspiring ‘Linear Smartcity’ in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Re. Image | Courtesy: NEOM

A city with no cars, streets, or carbon emissions. Can you imagine it? Then, Saudi Arabia’s upcoming city, THE LINE, is making it possible.

THE LINE is a linear smart city stretching across 170 kilometers, from the epic mountains of NEOM across inspirational desert valleys to the beautiful Red Sea. It is one of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in the world.

NEOM is a new urban area planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be built in its northwestern Tabuk Province. The site is north of the Red Sea, east of Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba and south of Jordan.

The plan for THE LINE was announced on 10 January 2021 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The earthworks began in October 2021 and the first phase of the project was scheduled to be completed in 2030. The ambitious project consists 135 connected communities, which are called modules, with each having 800 meters in length and 500 meters tall, as per the statement.

Saudi's THE LINE

The city will run on 100 percent renewable energy and 95 percent of land will be preserved for nature. Unlike traditional cities, people’s health and well-being will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure.

THE LINE enables the development of an environmental friendly transmission and distribution system by integrating utilities into the infrastructure spine. The city will eventually accommodate 9 million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers.

Access to the Nature

The progressive design of THE LINE offers immediate and uninterrupted access to nature within a two-minute walk, through its diverse open spaces, suspended on multiple levels.


Availability of Clean Air in THE LINE

The city will be zero-carbon, due to the elimination of unnecessary infrastructure, cars, and roads. It will operate on 100 percent renewable energy, including the operations of its industries. The integration of nature and open spaces will play an important role in enhancing air quality.

A 5-minute walk from every point

The mixed-use communities are designed to be livable and healthy, with all amenities within a 5-minute walk. It features infrastructure with sustainable smart technology for utilities and transportation, creating an efficient and low-cost business hub that will attract major companies.

Automated services will be powered by artificial intelligence. Amenities in close proximity will mean residents see family and friends often through spontaneous encounters.

Saudi Arabia's THE LINE

Job Creation

THE LINE intends to create 380,000 jobs and contribute approximately $50 billion to the domestic GDP by 2030. All of NEOM’s ongoing projects are of great importance to Saudi Arabia’s economy.

According to the NEOM, to ensure the establishment of microclimatic spaces, the environment has been carefully designed to allow for an optimal balance of sunlight, shade, and natural ventilation. Furthermore, the green open spaces throughout the city will further enhance the comfort for those living, working, and visiting the city.

THE LINE is still one of the most discussed mega projects. The project was criticized on many issues from human rights to environmental impacts and the debates continue about the great destruction of the environment during the construction process of the project.

THE LINE in Saudi Arabia

In a piece titled Arguments for building The Circle and not THE LINE in Saudi Arabia published in the journal NPJ Urban Sustainability, the Complexity Science Hub Vienna researchers Mr. Rafael Prieto-Curiel and Mr. Daniel Kondor have calculated the mobility issues that THE LINE linear city in Saudi Arabia is likely to experience. They calculated that taking THE LINE’s skyscrapers and arranging them in a circle, in a city they dubbed The Circle, would dramatically reduce commuting distances.

“THE LINE will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live. We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues,” according to His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the NEOM Company Board of Directors

Altogether, THE LINE redefines the concept of urban development and what cities of the future will look like.

Related: Saudi NEOM’s TONOMUS opens 1st digital communication center