The latest technology urban living project, The Line, is everywhere both on social media and the media itself. This project started to gain interest as relatively new, however, the first announcement of the city was back in 2021. There is no doubt that you have seen the news about this futuristic project. But would you not want to learn more about it? When I first saw a clip about it, millions of questions popped into my mind. What is The Line, and how did it start? How much will the construction cost? When will this city finish? What will be the advantages of The Line? Will they make The Line happen or fail? Now, to find answers to these questions, let’s explore this project in Saudi Arabia together.
The Line is seen as “a revolution in urban living” because it could be the fresh breath the world needs (NEOM). It is something that has never been done before. Basically, it is a complex vertical urbanism project in NEOM. Saudi Arabia is working on the NEOM for a while. NEOM will include projects/smart cities like The Line. In other words, The Line will be a small part of NEOM.
The Line will be a fully renewable energy urban living area that is 170 kilometers long, 200 meters wide, and 500 meters above sea level (See “The Line”). Along the 170 km, there will be three landforms: upper valley, mountain, and coastal desert. It will be located within the bigger project NEOM, specifically “in the northwest of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea.” There will not be any roads, cars, or emissions; however, citizens will still be able to travel the city end-to-end in only 20 minutes. And only with five-minute walk citizens will have access to all facilities (NEOM).
This project will give priority to people and nature. The majority of nature, 95%, will be preserved and zero-carbon as well. Being zero-carbon is significant because the 9 million people who will accommodate will have easier access to clean air.
The construction of The Line is planned to finish in 2030, and the cost of it is astonishing. The cost of The Line is 717 billion dollars ("Saudi Arabia reveals controversial new $717b city – but would you live in 'The Line'?").
The Line was envisioned by Mohammed bin Salman who is a member of the Saudi royal family, the crown prince, and the minister of defense of Saudi Arabia ("Mohammed bin Salman."). Dr. Alam Saleh has a theory why Mohammed bin Salman came up with the idea of The Line. His theory is as follows: “This is part of [Saudi Arabia's] attempt to enhance the image of the state ... it is trying to shift its conservative approach into a more technologically advanced, contemporary society” ("Saudi Arabia reveals controversial new $717b city – but would you live in 'The Line'?" ). For me, Dr. Saleh’s theory is quite logical. Because the team behind this is a foreigner team and includes both female and male members. Considering Saudi Arabia’s past of women’s rights (women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are growing, yet it still is not on a modern country level), maybe this is an attempt to clear out the Kingdom's bad reputation.
Reading all of these innovative and futuristic ideas might make you think about whether this project will fail or not. Dr. Jessi Moritz who is currently working “on renewable energy transitions and climate change policies in the Gulf oil and gas-rich states” has shared her professional opinion about this specific question ("Dr. Jessie Moritz."). She explained: “It has been done in the region before, however many of these projects fail… and there are many reasons that make me quite skeptical that The Line will ever eventuate, and if it does that people will want to live there,” ("Saudi Arabia reveals controversial new $717b city – but would you live in 'The Line'?"). There are other critics sharing the same idea as Dr. Moritz, but crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is very passionate about this project.
As explored in this article, The Line could be our future. It could be everyone’s future. It is what we see in many science fiction movies. But, personally, I did not realize that the future was this close. As an air-pollution activist, The Line is heaven to me if achieved. Imagine a place that accommodates 9 million people with %100 renewable energy. Our carbon footprint would decrease dramatically. Let’s hope that The Line will be achieved sometime in the future and some other countries will try to build cities like it.
Post Script: If you would like to see the designs alive. There is a public exhibition that you can visit in Jeddah. It will end on the 14th of August.
"Dr Jessie Moritz." Australian National University, iceds.anu.edu.au/people/academics/dr-jessie-moritz. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.
"Future or fantasy? Designs unveiled for one-building city stretching 106 miles in Saudi Arabia." CNN. CNN, edition.cnn.com/style/article/saudi-arabia-the-line-city-scli-intl/index.html. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.
The Line. NEOM, www.neom.com/en-us/regions/theline. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.
"Mohammed bin Salman." Britannica, www.britannica.com/biography/Mohammed-bin-Salman. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.
NEOM. www.neom.com/en-us/about. Accessed 2 Aug. 2022.
"Saudi Arabia reveals controversial new $717b city – but would you live in 'The Line'?" Yahoo, au.news.yahoo.com/the-line-saudi-arabia-reveals-futuristic-new-717-b-city-010535575.html?guccounter=1. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.