Part of the Neom project, a grandiose scheme years from completion, the proposed futuristic city will be located in the northwest of the Gulf country, near the Red Sea, according to an announcement by the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Line is a proposed 200-meter wide (656 feet) building acting as a vertical city, designed to sit 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. It will span 34 square kilometers (13 square miles), according to the press release.
Though details are scarce, those behind the design claim The Line will run entirely on renewable energy, with no roads, cars or emissions. High-speed rail will connect sections of The Line, the press release adds.
Design mock up of The Line. Credit: NEOM
Critics have cast doubt on whether the project is technologically feasible, while others have described the vision unveiled in a flashy promo video as “dystopian.”
The Line will sit in the northwest of the Gulf country, near the Red Sea. Credit: Saudi Press Agency
And while the Saudi government has introduced periodic labor reforms, their limited nature and lax enforcement have seen exploitative and dangerous practices continue for the migrant worker population.
“Over the past decade, other Gulf states have also embarked on reform of their notorious kafala systems, with most introducing more significant reforms than those of the Saudi authorities,” stated a Human Rights Watch report on the country’s most recent labor reforms in March 2021.
“However, many of the same violations against migrant workers’ rights persist across the region, most commonly unpaid and delayed wages and passport confiscations.”
The Neom project has already suffered delays. Credit: NEOM
Designs for the mirrored skyscraper mark the latest development in Saudi Arabia’s Neom project, a mega-development spanning three countries which began construction in 2019.
The metropolis will purportedly be powered by clean energy and run with the aid of artificial intelligence. Robot maids, flying taxis, and a giant artificial moon headline as features of a promised tech paradise.
“The designs … will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability. The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live,” bin Salman said in the press release.
The Neom project is backed by $500 billion from the Saudi government and the Saudi Arabian Public investment Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by bin Salman — as well as local and international investors.
Initially scheduled for 2025, delays have pushed back Neom’s completion date by a further five years, but the crown prince insists the ambitious project remains on track.
Cautionary tales exist in the form of various failed ‘super-projects’ across the globe in recent history.
According to those behind the plans, the city will have an outer mirror facade. Credit: Saudi Press Agency