The Line in Saudi Arabia is a proposed smart city design that will be built around a linear layout. This new city in Saudi Arabia is intended to be an ecologically sustainable and utopian vision of urban development. We will examine the Line itself, the larger context that led to its development, and the criticisms of it. Keep reading to learn more about the Line in Saudi Arabia!
- 1 A Look at the Line in Saudi Arabia
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
A Look at the Line in Saudi Arabia
|Date Constructed||2021 – Present|
|Location||Tabuk Province, Saudi Arabia|
The Line in Saudi Arabia is a particular stretch of residential and commercial districts that forms part of the broader Neom smart city plan. It would be best to first look at Neom to understand why the Line in Saudi Arabia exists as it currently does in the first place. So, what is Neom then? Well, at its simplest, Neom is a smart city that is currently under development in Saudi Arabia in the Tabuk Province. This particular province can be found north of the Red Sea, and the total area is particularly large at 26,500 sq km (or 10,200 sq mi). This means that it is effectively the site of a new city in Saudi Arabia, but what is it in the first place?
It would be easiest to answer this by answering a further question: what is a smart city? A smart city is a type of urban development that is arranged around the latest in technological methods to ensure that the city uses all the necessary information to exist as the most efficient form of a city, such as through the use of highly advanced infrastructure and social systems.
It would entail improved, and generally sustainable, road, sewerage, and electrical systems, and also better schools, municipal services, and overall design. And another important component would be the collection of information on the functioning of the city, such as through data collection of residents to aid in providing the city with the raw information it would need to more efficiently run the urban center that residents may need. This is what Neom, as a whole, wants to be. Neom is the name for the whole project, which includes a new industrial complex, a few leisure centers, and the Saudi Arabia line city that will be our main focus for today. So, now that we have come to this point, and we know what Neom is intending to be: what is the Line in Saudi Arabia?
The Line in Saudi Arabia is a linear city project that exists within Neom as a whole. A linear city is a type of urban development where the usual spread-out urban sprawl is instead intentionally condensed into a single line of development. This will be densely packed, appear like a singular building from the exterior, and be able to house 9 million people (in the case of this particular linear city). The Line in Saudi Arabia is the latest part of the Neom region.
Neom was announced back in 2017, but the Line in Saudi Arabia was only announced in 2021 with major changes added in 2022. This is still an ongoing development, so let’s get started on exploring it and whether it could potentially work.
The Development of Saudi Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia has attained its incredible wealth and power through one major aspect of the country’s exports: oil. However, the oil industry is built on the current industrial system, and if the current industrial system dies, then oil loses its functionality and value. If we can entirely transition to renewable energy sources in our industry and vehicles, then oil vanishes from human need. If this were to happen, Saudi Arabia, and other countries that make most of their money from oil exports, would lose their primary source of wealth.
This is why Saudi Arabia, ever since the 1970s, has been attempting to distance itself from oil production and instead reduce its dependence on this export.
Saudi Vision 2030 is the offspring of this need. The idea behind this overarching plan is to transition Saudi Arabia into a global leader in technology, education, tourism, recreation, and all manner of other aspects of the economy. The plan was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016, and Neom has served as part of that overarching plan. However, as of 2021, the country is still predominantly focused on oil production for its principal export market.
So, the plans may not be going all that well at present, but the Line in Saudi Arabia is simply the next step in that overarching plan.
The Plans for the Line in Saudi Arabia
The Line in Saudi Arabia has predominantly been shown to the world through slickly-produced videos that have presented this highly sophisticated idea to the outside world. However, when it comes to more tangible specifics, this new city in Saudi Arabia has been a very hush-hush operation with all architects signing non-disclosure agreements. So, those who are planning this are not known.
The general plan is for this linear city in Neom to be a city of the future that stretches 170 km (or 110 mi) in a straight line in which all residents within this planned city will live an existence of bliss. There will be no cars, carbon emissions, or even roads.
Everything will be within walking distance, and if you wanted to visit someone elsewhere, there would be a transport system for that. So, the idea is for a highly walkable residential city and commercial workplace in which all residents will share the beautiful views that can be seen through the external walls. The ultimate plan is for this linear city to house 9 million people within its walls, and these millions of people will be sustained through renewable energy, artificial intelligence as a monitoring system, and tight-knit community development. The city is estimated to cost about half a trillion dollars, but as it forms part of Saudi Vision 2030, this is likely seen to be a perfectly reasonable cost for what the city is meant to become.
Each of the smaller communal centers within the Line in Saudi Arabia are called modules, and there will be 135 of these communal modules. Each module will be 800 m (2,624 ft) in length and 500 m (or 1,640 ft) in height, and each of these modules will allow for complete communal living within them in which all amenities are provided. The plan is clearly a very ambitious one, and as the Line in Saudi Arabia forms only part of the larger Neom project, it is even more ambitious. Other parts of Neom include a large manufacturing section and both a mountain and an island resort for leisure purposes.
This highly ambitious project has even come with some of its own taglines from the promotional videos that have been provided by Saudi Arabia to reveal its utopian visions for these plans. One of these extremely ambitious taglines is: “The world needs Neom because the world needs change.”
This kind of ambition is often reserved for the kinds of developments that remain utopian and never actually start. However, Neom, and particularly the Line in Saudi Arabia, have already started construction. The site for the Line in particular has been underway for several months already
The History of the Line in Saudi Arabia
The earliest plans for the Line in Saudi Arabia emerged in early 2021, and they were directly announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He presented the idea in a state television broadcast, and a plan was presented for the first phase of the development of this linear city to be done by 2030 (although the earliest residents would move in by 2024). Various promotional videos were then released over the following months to spread the word about this new development in Saudi Arabia, and because of the nature of developments in the country, nothing much else was said in terms of tangible specifics.
Instead, late 2022 saw the release of some drone footage to show that work was being done on the site, but nothing else has really been said.
The developers of the city have stated that most of the city will be done by 2039, but various experts have been skeptical of these kinds of claims, and the fact that most of the region is still only desert does indicate that the country is behind on its plans. However, regardless of that, the site is currently being developed, and so while the development may not be going ahead as initially planned, it certainly is happening.
The Criticism of the Line in Saudi Arabia
Many potential criticisms can be leveled against this new city in Saudi Arabia, and many of these criticisms come from a variety of places. There are, firstly, purely functional criticisms that have been made of the Line in Saudi Arabia. These criticisms focus on aspects of the design such as the way in which developing something this slick and technologically advanced, as it is planned, may be outside of our current capabilities, and that the final product will never look like the carefully designed videos that have been used to promote this Saudi Arabia line city.
Then there are also some other criticisms that operate more as a critique of the whole idea of the smart city concept. A smart city, while being technologically advanced, is also intended as a means to collect vast swaths of data on the people who live within it.
The present aim of this kind of data collection is to provide the best possible environment for which to allow human thriving, but it could also lead this development to turn into a surveillance state. And considering the track record that Saudi Arabia has with regard to human rights, this is a very strong concern.
That criticism of Saudi Arabia itself does also extend outside of hypothetic surveillance aspects and into more tangibly historic critiques. Saudi Arabia has a poor track record with human rights, its mistreatment of migrant workers, and the fact that Neom, in general, has led to the displacement of some of the people who happened to live in the region (such as one person who was sentenced to death for refusing to vacate). These are all some deeply rooted issues with this Saudi Arabia line city, but there are also some general criticisms of smart cities, such as a smart city’s lack of flexibility for new development, its general ignorance of working-class populations, and they could affect those who have specific disabilities who may have different needs than what a smart city could provide. Many criticisms could be made of this new city in Saudi Arabia and what it means for those who live in it.
We have come to the end of our discussion about the Line in Saudi Arabia. We have looked at what this new city in Saudi Arabia is, how it’s connected to Neom and Saudi Vision 2030, what the plan for this linear city is, and why it has been so extensively criticized. Hopefully, you have learned a good deal about this planned Saudi Arabia line city in this article. All that’s left to say is that we wish you a great day/week/month ahead!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Line in Saudi Arabia?
The Line in Saudi Arabia is a linear smart city design that is currently under development in the general region that has come to be known as Neom. The general idea behind this linear city is that it will have no cars or streets, everything will be within walking distance, and it will be built around entirely sustainable energy sources. The project has already received extensive criticism for a variety of reasons.
What Is Saudi Vision 2030?
Saudi Vision 2030 is a large project that has led to the development of Neom and other technologically advanced moves by the Saudi Arabian government. The idea is that the country’s reliance on oil as its principal export will need to be reduced while other areas, like technology, healthcare, and recreation, need to be expanded so that when oil eventually becomes redundant, Saudi Arabia does not immediately sink into poverty.
What Is a Smart City?
A smart city is a type of urban development that is designed around a technologically advanced form of infrastructure and general layout. The idea is to create a city that collects data on its citizens to help improve their lives by managing all their needs without the necessity of continuous human management. However, this type of urban design has been criticized for possibly leading to a kind of surveillance state in which all manner of the personal lives of citizens are invaded on a daily basis.
Justin van Huyssteen is a writer, academic, and educator from Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a master’s degree in Theory of Literature. His primary focus in this field is the analysis of artistic objects through a number of theoretical lenses. His predominant theoretical areas of interest include narratology and critical theory in general, with a particular focus on animal studies. Other than academia, he is a novelist, game reviewer, and freelance writer. Justin’s preferred architectural movements include the more modern and postmodern types of architecture, such as Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Brutalist, and Futurist varieties like sustainable architecture. Justin is working for artfilemagazine as an author and content writer since 2022. He is responsible for all blog posts about architecture.
Cite this Article
Justin, van Huyssteen, “The Line in Saudi Arabia – Discover the New City in Saudi Arabia.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. May 24, 2023. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/the-line-in-saudi-arabia/
van Huyssteen, J. (2023, 24 May). The Line in Saudi Arabia – Discover the New City in Saudi Arabia. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/the-line-in-saudi-arabia/
van Huyssteen, Justin. “The Line in Saudi Arabia – Discover the New City in Saudi Arabia.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, May 24, 2023. https://artfilemagazine.com/the-line-in-saudi-arabia/.