Saudi Arabia announces a 170km urban belt connecting cities with no cars and streets

The hyperconnected, AI powered development with space for a million residents in the country’s Neom region is expected to revolutionise urban living.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Jan 18, 2021

Saudi Arabia has announced plans of a 170km linear belt connecting AI-enabled smart cities to be developed in the country’s cross border city of Neom. Titled THE LINE, the project is to be built around nature with no cars and roads in its scheme and is expected to be one of the most challenging infrastructure projects in the world.

01 min watch THE LINE is a 170km belt of hyper connected and AI powered future cities | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
THE LINE is a 170km belt of hyper connected and AI powered future cities Video: Courtesy of NEOM

Designed as ‘a revolution in urban living’ and ‘a blueprint for how people and planet can coexist in harmony’, THE LINE will be a city of million residents with no cars, streets and carbon emissions. The project was recently unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman.

The Scheme | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
The Scheme Image: Courtesy of NEOM

As per the scheme, walkability will be the heart of the project as ultra-high speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions will reduce travelling time – no journey will be longer than 20 minutes.

Location | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
Location Image: Courtesy of NEOM

THE LINE seeks to redesign the typical model of a contemporary city that poses innumerable challenges around urban living, infrastructure, and human congestion. The project involves building of mixed-use cities around nature (instead of over it), using invisible technology to generate open and carefree urban spaces and innovating in the public space. All spaces and services will be powered by clean energy.

Operation | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
Operation Image: Courtesy of NEOM

"Throughout history, cities were built to protect their citizens. After the industrial revolution, cities prioritised machines, cars and factories over people. In cities that are viewed as the world’s most advanced, people spend years of lives commuting. By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. Ninety per cent of people breathe polluted air,” His Royal Highness shares in a press statement.

  • Towards tackling urban challenges | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
    Towards tackling urban challenges Image: Courtesy of NEOM
  • Walkability | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
    Walkability Image: Courtesy of NEOM

He further goes on to say, “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? Therefore, we need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one".

THE LINE seeks to preserve pristine mountains and valleys in the north-west of Saudi Arabia | THE LINE | Saudi Arabia | STIRworld
THE LINE seeks to preserve pristine mountains and valleys in the north-west of Saudi Arabia Image: Gary Cummins, Courtesy of NEOM

THE LINE, which is to be built in the forward-looking city of Neom, is conceptualised to protect the most stunning nature that falls on the 170km belt while creating unmatched livability. It is also expected to add to the country’s economic growth by generating nearly 380,000 jobs and contributing SAR 180bn ($48bn USD) to domestic GDP by 2030.

The construction of the project will begin in the first quarter of 2021.

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