About a year and a half ago, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, announced plans for a utopian-like ‘linear’ city powered by 100% clean energy, saying the country would invest between $100 billion and $200 billion to make the project a reality. Dubbed The Line, the new city was described in a way that resembled the setting of a post-apocalyptic YA novel, where residents would live without cars or streets inside a 100-mile-long futuristic “belt.” Anchoring the kingdom’s green city, NEOM, residents would use autonomous, high-speed transit and artificial intelligence would improve daily life by harnessing data to enhance infrastructure.
When the project was first announced, visuals of the development were notably lacking. Instead, the public was tasked with imagining what this one-of-a-kind city could look like using only buzzy descriptions full of hackneyed tech slang to inform their ideas. But as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words—and for those eager to better understand The Line, those pictures are finally here.
In late July, His Royal Highness shared renderings of the design of The Line, offering a better understanding of the vision. The Line will be 656 feet wide, 1640 feet tall, and clad in a mirrored facade that reflects the surrounding desert. Most of the city functions will be layered, meaning schools, homes, offices, and parks, among other infrastructure, will be stacked on top of each other, promoting vertical movement in addition to horizontal journeys.
“At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” HRH bin Salman said in a statement. “The designs revealed today for the city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability.”
“NEOM remains one of the most important projects of Saudi Vision 2030, and our commitment to delivering The Line on behalf of the nation remains resolute,” the crown prince said in a statement. However, some have criticized the whole thing as being improbable at best and a wholly unrealistic billionaire power play at worst. The Saudi ruler has additionally received broader critiques of his Vision 2030 and is more seriously held in contempt for his role in the 2018 assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.