The Line City, a groundbreaking project set to stretch across 170 kilometers in the Neom region of Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province, has garnered international attention for its ambitious vision of a “cognitive city.”
According to Neom’s website, this city will stand at an impressive 500 meters above sea level while being a land-saving 200 meters wide. The key promise here is the use of 100% renewable energy, housing 9 million inhabitants in a compact 34 square kilometers, and featuring a high-speed rail system for efficient transportation.
Neom’s website outlines its commitment to five focal points: sustainability, community, technology, nature, and livability. In alignment with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which emphasizes a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation, Neom aims to prioritize people’s health and well-being over traditional city planning.
While the Line City’s ambition has received praise from some, there are doubts about its feasibility. Kristine Pitts, a former Director of ExperienceLab Middle East, sees it as an opportunity to revolutionize how people live, work, and travel. However, Professor Philip Oldfield and other Neom employees question the viability of constructing a 500-meter-tall building with low-carbon materials.
To assess The Line’s sustainability, it’s essential to consider the four widely accepted types: Human, Social, Economic, and Environmental sustainability. The construction’s extensive length and density are seen as fostering a sense of community and providing essential services. However, researchers Dániel Kondor and Rafael Prieto-Curiel argue that a circular city shape may be more efficient in balancing density and connectedness.
On the environmental front, Neom promises to preserve 95% of its land for nature, contributing to environmental sustainability. Economically, the Line City aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on the oil industry by attracting millions of annual visitors and creating job opportunities.
The success of the Line City hinges on its maintenance, which relies on new technologies, notably Artificial Intelligence (AI). Green Matters sees it as a potential “City of Tomorrow” with extensive food autonomy. However, concerns arise regarding the impact of the city’s walls on biodiversity and the challenges of maintaining control over such a vast, innovative project.
The Line City represents a groundbreaking concept with potential benefits for sustainability and economic diversification. However, its realization will depend on overcoming significant challenges and uncertainties, including environmental impact and long-term governance. This ambitious project may indeed offer innovative solutions to contemporary issues in climate justice, renewable energy, and sustainability, but its path to success is laden with complexities.