Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled his latest vision for Saudi Arabia’s future beyond oil: a city without cars, roads or CO2 emissions.
The 170-kilometer “The Line” development will be part of the $ 500 billion Neom project, the Crown Prince said in a televised address on Sunday. The start of construction is planned for the first quarter.
In a press release, The Line was described as a walkable “belt of hyperconnected future communities with no cars or roads and all around nature”. The city will have 1 million inhabitants by 2030 and create 380,000 jobs. The infrastructure will cost 100 to 200 billion dollars, said the Crown Prince.
Neom is the crown jewel of Prince Mohammed’s plan to diversify the economy of the world‘s largest crude oil exporter. The project, announced in 2017, covers more than 10,000 square kilometers in a remote area in the northwest of the country. It is described on its website as a “bold and daring dream” that will become a hub for new technology and business.
The project has been plagued by skepticism and political controversy since it was launched. Analysts ask if this is realistic and can attract the necessary investments.
“The backbone of the investment in The Line will be the support of Neom by the Saudi government, PIF, and local and global investors of $ 500 billion over 10 years,” the prince told reporters in Al-Ula and referred to the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.
The announcement on Sunday shows the extent to which Prince Mohammed is considering life after oil for the kingdom, which generated more than half of the state’s revenue from crude oil in 2020. The project was the first major development announced within Neom.
“Why do we accept sacrificing nature for development?” said the prince, referring to rising sea levels and carbon emissions in a manner rare for a Saudi official. The city, he said, would be a “revolution for humanity” with “zero cars, zero roads, zero emissions”.
No trip within the line will take more than 20 minutes, he said. According to the statement, the city will be built around “ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions”.
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