In 2021, the Saudi Arabian government presented plans for the city of Neom, which included a large project that was still years away from completion named The Line, a megastructure. The $500 billion Neom Project, which was launched in 2017 and is centered on the northwest region of Saudi Arabia, includes The Line as just one component. Plans exist to construct a network of airports and the biggest airport in the world in addition to The Line.
What is The Line?
The Line is intended to be a complete city, 200 metres wide, 170 kilometres long, and 500 metres above sea level. It will be built in the northwest region of Saudi Arabia, close to the Red Sea. The Line’s intended width of 656 feet means that it will mostly rely on its height to house its inhabitants and a variety of modern conveniences, such as a high-speed rail system to link different parts of the 106-mile city. According to Saudi officials, The Line won’t have any other roads, vehicles, or pollution and would only use sustainable energy. It is claimed that The Line will only use renewable energy, placing a higher priority on people’s health and wellbeing than on infrastructure and transportation. Key amenities will always be within a five-minute walk and high-speed train will be present with a 20-minute end-to-end transit time.
Although a timetable was not provided in The Line’s announcement, it is expected that people will start moving in by the year 2030, with initial work starting in October 2021. This deadline was announced as a part of Vision 2030, a bigger national improvement program that aims house nine million people. The Line is expected to have urban areas devoid of traffic, automobiles, and pollutants. Despite this, the environmental impacts of the project cannot be determined for sure. The project is proposed to be covered by mirrors on the outer covering. Considering this is in the middle of the desert, it might risk the flora and fauna around the project. It might also increase temperatures, due to the constant reflection of sunlight.
What is ‘Green’ about The Line?
According to the website, Neom will become ‘the city with the most food autonomy in the world.’ It lays out a vision for greenhouses and vertical farming, which is aspirational for a nation that currently imports around 80% of its food. In addition, the project is claimed to be the ‘ Future of Nature’. 95% of our land and sea will be protected for nature, claims the project. They aim to create a system where humans can live in harmony with nature. Through The Line, Saudi is producing water and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to their global sustainable racing series.
The NEOM claims that
- 1. 10°C cooler than the rest of the GCC
- 2. 20 mj/m² perennial solar resources
- 3. 100%Renewable energy
- 4. 6-hour flight away from 40% of the globe
Journey of the Name
Whether this can be done sustainably is up for debate. The driving force behind Neom, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is accused by critics of engaging in ‘greenwashing,’ or making false environmental promises far from the truth. Clearly, Saudi Arabia still has a long way to go.
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