Saudi Arabia unveils plans for futuristic 'line' city that will house nine million people
Some have said it's a fantasy.
Saudi Arabia has unveiled new plans for a futuristic city complete with a regulated micro-climate, near total sustainability and, of course, flying taxis.
'The Line' will stretch 170km from the Gulf of Aqaba towards the city of Tabuk and will stand taller than New York's Empire State Building.
First announced in 2017, this innovative new concept is part of a wider project known as Neom that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claims will benefit "all of humanity, not only Saudi Arabia."
The city, which is part of the Crown Prince's wider scheme of bringing his country into the future, will cost around €317 billion to construct, which he says will be partly funded by private investment.
The announcement was made at a dedicated event in Jeddah, where the Crown Prince claimed Saudi entrepreneurs would also want to contribute to "one of the most exciting architectural developments taking place currently in the world."
"The city's vertically-layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities," the Prince said. "The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will be in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions."
Besides the immense promise to be completely sustainable, the city is also slated to include flying taxis, robot maids and hanging gardens. All the "daily needs" of the city's inhabitants will be reachable in a five-minute walk and people can travel the full 170km in just 20 minutes on a "high-speed rail."
However not everyone is sold, largely due to the grand scale of things. While cities worldwide are making a few landmark changes to move into the future, Neom is hoping to do them all.
"With little access to the site, and only eight years left before residents are meant to move in, it's a lot to take on trust," said one consultant for the Saudi government. "And then there's the inertia in the system. It's hard to excise that."
Echoing the above, Robert Mogielnicki from the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington told Agence France-Presse: "The concept has morphed so much from its early conception that it's sometimes hard to determine its direction: scaling down, scaling up, or making an aggressive turn sideways.
"That's the main purpose of building Neom," he added. "To raise the capacity of Saudi Arabia, get more citizens and more people in Saudi Arabia. And since we are doing it from nothing, why should we copy normal cities?"