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Prince Mohammed bin Salman launches new city at Saudi Arabia's Neom

January 11, 2021

Plans for 'The Line' include a population of 1 million and the city to be fully pedestrianised

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday launched plans for a new city within the Neom megaproject on the Red Sea coast that will be fully pedestrianised.

The city will have 1 million residents and be 170km in length. It will seek to preserve almost all of the nature to be found within the site of the project in the north-west of the kingdom. Plans for the city include no cars or streets and 'zero carbon emissions', he said. Construction will begin before the end of March.

Prince Mohammed, who is chairman of the board of the Neom Company, said that 'The Line' has been designed to allow residents to 'fulfil all of their daily requirements within a five-minute walk'. The city can be crossed end-to-end in 20 minutes, he said.

'Cities prioritised machines, cars and factories over people ... Even in cities that claim to be the world's most advanced, people spend years of their lives commuting,' said Prince Mohammed.

'Why should we accept wasting years of people's lives commuting?' He said. Prince Mohammed said that traditionally, cities had been designed to prioritise machinery or transport rather than the human beings who lived in them.

'Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development?' He said.

'We need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one,' he said.

The city will be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy and the cost of infrastructure would be 30 per cent cheaper compared to more traditional cities. Prince Mohammed said more details would be revealed about the project at a later date. Saudi Press Agency said the city would be a '170km belt of hyper-connected future communities' and feature 'ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions'.

All essential daily services, such as schools, medical clinics, leisure facilities, as well as green spaces, will be within a five-minute walk,' SPA said.

The Line will utilise the data typically produced by a city at far higher levels to help enhance infrastructure, SPA said.

Neom is the flagship project of Saudi Arabia's post-oil diversification plan known as Vision 2030 that seeks to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons. It is being overseen by the Public Investment Fund. The Line is set to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and contribute tens of billions of dollars to the kingdom's GDP, SPA said.

Neom is located in north-western Saudi Arabia, spanning a total area of 26,500 square kilometres. It will contain towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports venues, entertainment sites and tourist destinations. The bulk of construction is due to take place over the next decade, with a target of hosting one million residents by 2030.