THE LINE, a new project in Saudi Arabia’s futuristic NEOM city, is set to have a profound impact on the way that people live and find new ways of improving city-living for the future, an expert told Al Arabiya on Monday.
THE LINE is a new 170-kilometer (km) belt of hyper-connected communities, designed without cars or roads and in concert with nature. The communities will be powered by artificial intelligence technology designed to learn and improve the lives of residents and businesses.
“I have no doubt this will change the way people live, work, travel and in terms of quality of life, it's really looking at the opportunity that we have here. Building something from scratch is a luxury that most cities don't have,” Kristine Pitts, the director of ExperienceLab Middle East, the research and design arm of public service firm Serco said.
“I think starting from nothing, while it has challenges, it has the opportunity to throw out what doesn't work about cities as we know them and really finding new ways of living,” Pitts added.
The project is part of NEOM and the Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan, an ambitious program designed to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy. THE LINE will generate around 380,000 job opportunities and contribute 180 billion riyals ($48 billion) to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, according to a statement released during the project’s announcement.
“I think [THE LINE] is a shining example of moving forward. It's entirely in keeping with what I would expect to see from Vision 2030, and it certainly is trying to deliver that NEOM dream,” Pitts said.
With sustainability at the heart of the NEOM project, THE LINE will be 100 percent powered by clean energy, for a pollution-free, cleaner, and more sustainable environment. Furthermore, throughout development of THE LINE, strict environmental controls are being put in place to preserve NEOM’s natural environment and rich heritage, according to the project’s website.
“We need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one … Today, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM, I present to you THE LINE. A city of a million residents with a length of 170 km that preserves 95 percent of nature within NEOM, with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions,” Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM said during the announcement of the project.
NEOM was announce in 2017 and is positioned to become a high-tech, next generation city, and global center for innovation, trade and creativity in the Kingdom.
The city is one of Saudi Arabia’s mega-projects, other examples include the Red Sea Development Project and Qiddiya, all aimed at boosting the Kingdom’s tourism sector – a central tenant of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan that aims to transform the country’s economy for a post-hydrocarbon age.
NEOM’s 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) development is located in the northwestern Tabuk Province and will span from Saudi Arabia’s Egyptian and Jordanian borders, rendering NEOM the first private zone to span to three countries. More than $500 billion has been pledged to complete the project by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.