Though not often a role model for social justice, freedom, or democracy, Saudi Arabia is delivering to the world a worthwhile example of future living: as it’s announced plans to build a revolutionary zero-carbon, zero-traffic city for over a million people, spanning 105 miles and featuring futuristic technology.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an announcement that the city, called The Line for its long, thin shape and route along the coastline, will preserve 95% of the natural environment in and around which it’s built, and will be an economic engine for the Kingdom.
“We need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one,” Prince Mohammed said at an event to launch the city, according to Arab News.
“By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90 percent of people breathe polluted air.”
Construction is set to start in the first quarter of this year. Eventually, it’s planned that a 105-mile network of AI-operated automated transport will carry a future population through four distinct districts (coastal, coastal desert, mountains, and upper valley) on the northwestern corner of the Kingdom, on the coast of the Red Sea.
The cost of this technological wonderland where there will be no cars, no streets, and no pollution, and where sun and wind will generate almost all of the electricity, is between $100 billion and $200 billion, much of which will come from domestic funds, and the rest from foreign investment, both from businesses wanting a stake in the city of the future, and companies looking to showcase technological innovation.
Indeed, $1.5 billion is set to pour in from cloud information technology alone. Data is the central font around which NEOM and The Line will be planned, as Saudi economist Mazen Al-Sudairi described to Arab News, most major cities in the world are organized around the flow of water and placement of crops, while The Line will be planned around access to data.
All the Saudi royals came out in support of the project, with the Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh describing it as “characterized by the principles of global humanity, economic diversity and artificial intelligence, and the enhancement of research and innovation opportunities for the future industry.”
Walkability will define life on The Line, with planners allegedly working to ensure that education, transportation, and medical facilities, shopping and leisure locations, as well as green areas are all between 5 and 15 minutes by foot from any point in The Line’s communities.
“It is a new era of civilization, a new model for a city which is clean, proper and with zero carbon,” said Al-Sudairi.