(pic: Mohammed bin Salman) In 2021, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman released plans for a 100-mile linear skyscraper megacity of connected communities [called “city modules”] which will span three countries [Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt], and link the Red Sea coast with the northwest of Saudi Arabia. Plans for the nearly 300-mile waterfront include a marina surrounded by sports, performance and art venues, shops, restaurants, and the creation of a waterpark with a wave machine for training the next generation of Olympians.
Expected to house 9 million people, it will be a city with no cars or streets, where all residents living within a five-minute walk of essential facilities. It will be a part of Neom,, a fully automated $500 billion region that will be entirely powered by renewable energy.
Neom was announced at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh [the Saudi capital] in 2017. It is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 drive to diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil, as well as make Saudi Arabia an investment hub connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa. “High-speed transportation, utilities, digital infrastructure, and logistics will be seamlessly integrated in dedicated spaces running in an invisible layer along The Line,” said a statement.by Neom.
As if the building of Neom and The Line were not astounding enough, at the conference, Saudi Arabia also officially formally named a robot as a citizen—the first time in history that an AI device has been awarded such standing! Sophia, an intelligent humanoid robot (designed by David Hanson), announced the citizenship herself! You can see the announcement and a full interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5t6K9iwcdw
The Neom website states that it expects to attract “high-caliber human resources” and that most “repetitive and arduous tasks will be fully automated and handled by robots, which may exceed the population….” Ambitiously, it says, “All these elements will put Neom at the world’s forefront in terms of efficiency, which will make it the best destination in the world to live in.”
The city of Neom will span 10,000 square miles, and [despite the challenge of its being in three sovereign countries] is intended to operate as an independent economic trade zone with its own laws. Saudi Arabia will contribute $500 billion from its sovereign wealth fund into 9 key investment areas: energy and water, biotech, mobility, food, technological and digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment.
The Line, which is only a part of Neom will be 106 miles long, 1640 feet tall and 660 feet wide. At that height, it will become the 12th tallest building in the world, and by far the longest. It “will have an outer mirror facade that will provide its unique character and allow even its small footprint to blend with nature, while the interior will be built to create extraordinary experiences and magical moments,” said the Saudi Arabian government. The structure will have residential, retail and leisure areas as well as schools and parks.
The different functions will be stacked in an arrangement described by the city’s creators as Zero Gravity Urbanism. A transportation system running the length of the megastructure will connect both ends of the city within 20 minutes. Vehicles driven by artificial intelligence (AI); there will be a metro line and high-speed freight transportation underground. The AI-driven transportation will be made possible by massive data harnessing. The Line’s developers said its communities will be “cognitive” and powered by AI, which will “continuously be learning predictive ways to make life easier. “An estimated 90 per cent of available data will be harnessed to enhance infrastructure capabilities far beyond the 1 per cent typically utilized in existing smart cities.”
Bin Salman said: “By 2050, commute durations will double. By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90 per cent of people breathe polluted air. “Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution? Why should we lose one million people every year due to traffic accidents?”
Watch a video about this colossal project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xPac81D4Kw
Photography courtesy of Neom.