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Design for Saudi Arabia's "The Line" City Unveiled

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By Shella Artillero - - 5 Mins Read

Saudi Arabia's leaders envision The Line, a "giga-project" that will change the northwest of the country, as a tall, narrow strip of a city more than 105 miles long, teeming with 9 million inhabitants, and powered completely by renewable energy.

A futuristic walled metropolis with an open interior that is surrounded on both sides by a mirrored façade is depicted in recently released architectural concepts as extending from the Red Sea to the east through the desert and into a mountain range.

A city covered in mirrors and costing $717 billion in plans has been unveiled that will span 170 kilometers of desert.

Near the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia's northwest is where the futuristic Neom megacity will be built. It will be surrounded by lush hanging gardens and have vertically tiered residences, workplaces, and schools.

Aiming to house nine million people and achieve perfect sustainability in a temperature-controlled microclimate, the grandiose edifice is 200 meters wide and 500 meters high.


Traditional streets and automobiles won't exist, thus there won't be any more gridlock on the roads.

When compared to other cities of similar size, "The Line will eventually accommodate nine million persons and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometers," Neom stated.

"Its excellent year-round climate will guarantee that locals can enjoy nearby wildlife when walking.

In addition to a high-speed train with a 20-minute end-to-end transit time, residents will have access to all of The Line's amenities within a five-minute walk of their homes.

Even flying taxis, robot housekeepers, and a huge man-made moon have been promoted.

The designers say the structure will maintain an ideal climate year-round, thanks to its mix of shade, sunlight and ventilation. But not everyone was as keen on the concept of living between gigantic walls in the Saudi desert.

"I never seen something more dystopian," one commenter wrote in reply to a video of The Line posted by the Saudi Press Agency.

It's not a novel concept to think that building a new metropolis from scratch can solve urban issues. It has been tried before, as Carlos Felipe Pardo, a senior adviser to the New Urban Mobility Alliance, points out, from Brazil and India's Chandigarh to Malaysia's Putrajaya and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

The futuristic The Line mega city project will be located near the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia and surrounds vertically layered homes, offices and schools with lush hanging gardens.

According to Pardo, a Colombia-based researcher, "this solution is a little like wishing to live on Mars since things on Earth are very filthy."

Even if they were constructed from scratch, complex urban concepts like this typically "produce new urban contexts where problems have also evolved," according to Pardo.

There hasn't been much information released on how the enormous project would carry out its many amazing features, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promises it will "solve the difficulties of traditional horizontal flat cities."

We cannot ignore the environmental and liveability challenges that are affecting the world's cities, and NEOM is leading the charge in providing innovative answers to these problems, he said.

The Prince estimated that the first phase of the city would cost 1.2 trillion riyals ($458 billion), of which half would come from the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund.