Saudi Arabia has one goal: to build the first sustainable, digitized, car-free city called The Line. The investment is USD 500,000 million.
The Line might as well be a city straight out of a sci-fi movie, but Saudi Arabia has every intention of build it and have it ready in 2030.
The architectural mastodon will be the work of the company NEOMowned by the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
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The idea was already presented in January 2021 and it was only until July 25, 2022 that Salmán and his team delivered the first details of their new linear city.
“The design reveals a vertically conceived cityin multi-story communities that challenge the traditional horizontal model of cities”, said Salmán in the presentation.
The city will be a big line at the foot of the Red Sea, with about 170 kilometers. Two great glass walls will cover the city in a kind of dome, like in the movie “Elysium” by Matt Damon, where only the ‘chosen’ lived there.
The rise of the vertical city
As Bin Salmán rightly said, cities have generally grown horizontally. Hence, one of the problems in creating housing plans has been the available space or land.
With the stratification of cities, many of the metropolises have expanded towards the perimeters. Therefore, citizens must travel several minutes and even hours to reach the center or the main services.
Take Quito as an example, which, according to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard ranking of cities, requires its citizens to pass up to 63 hours a year behind the wheel.
But, when building a vertical or three-dimensional city, in each ‘layer’ or layer there will be the same number of parksshopping malls, schools or places of entertainment.
And in NEOM’s vision, citizens will be within a five-minute walk of where they want to go or visit.
Also, they will have a integrated artificial intelligence system to facilitate services, commerce and life in general.
The Line is conceived as a place without cars and therefore without energy from fossil fuels.
The only means of transportation will be a electric and fast trainwhich will allow in 20 minutes to travel the city from end to end.
with clean energy
The Line plans to be a 100% ecological city, which privileges green areas and will use energy from renewable sources such as wind power, green hydrogen and solar to function. The latter is very abundant in Saudi Arabia due to its geographical position and climate.
Another promise is that the city will be free of CO2 emissions, since there will be no burning of fossil fuels.
The goal is that the construction of the city generate a minimal carbon footprintsimilar to that produced by an area of 34 square kilometers.
Is it possible to create The Line?
The Line marks the beginning of the post-oil future of Saudi Arabia, the leading exporter of crude oil. But their rulers know that a fossil fuel based city will not be sustainable to future.
In addition, The Line is part of a larger tourism project called Vision 2030, to rival its Gulf neighbors Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both nations have been able to reinvent their economy and become travel destinations.
In fact, in the presentation of the initiative it is mentioned that 40% of the inhabitants of other countries will be able to reach the city in a six-hour trip.
On the other hand, critics have doubts about the technological viability of the project, describing it as a dystopia or a imagined and fanciful society of the Saudi Prince.