The Line, Saudi Arabia

Coordinates: 28°17′15″N 34°50′42″E / 28.28750°N 34.84500°E / 28.28750; 34.84500
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The Line
الخط (Arabic)
Coordinates: 28°17′15″N 34°50′42″E / 28.28750°N 34.84500°E / 28.28750; 34.84500
Country Saudi Arabia
Announced10 January 2021; 2 years ago (2021-01-10)
Founded byMohammed bin Salman
 • DirectorNadhmi Al-Nasr[1]
 • Total34 km2 (13 sq mi)
 • Length170 km (110 mi)
 • Width0.2 km (0.1 mi)
500 m (1,600 ft)
Time zoneUTC+03 (Arabian Standard Time) Edit this at Wikidata

The Line (styled THE LINE; Arabic: الخط AL KHATT) is a linear smart city under construction in Saudi Arabia in Neom, Tabuk Province, which is designed to have no cars, streets or carbon emissions.[2][3][4][5] The 170-kilometre-long (110 mi) city is part of Saudi Vision 2030 project, which Saudi Arabia claims will create around 460,000 jobs and add an estimated $48 billion to the country's GDP.[2] The Line is planned to be the first development of a $500 billion project in Neom.[6] The city's plans anticipate a population of 9 million -- 25% of Saudi Arabia's current population of 35.5 million.[7] Excavation work had started along the entire length of the project by October 2022.

The project has faced criticism over its impact on the environment and the current population of the area, as well as doubts about its technological and economic viability.[according to whom?]


Artist's conception of the outdoor interior space within The Line.

The Line is planned to be 170 kilometres (110 mi) long, preserving 95% of the nature within Neom.[3][4][8] It will stretch from the Red Sea approximately to the city of Tabuk. It is intended that it will have nine million residents, resulting in an average population density of 260,000 people per square kilometre.[7] By comparison, Manila, the world's most densely populated city in 2020, had a density of 44,000/km2.[9] The Line's plan consists of two mirrored buildings with an outdoor space in between, having a total width of 200 metres (660 ft) and a height of 500 metres (1,600 ft).[7] This would make it the 3rd tallest building in the country, after the Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower and the proposed Jeddah Tower, and approximately the 12th tallest building in the world.

The plan is for the city to be powered entirely by renewable energy.[4] It will consist of three layers, one on the surface for pedestrians, one underground for infrastructure, and another underground for transportation.[2] Artificial intelligence will monitor the city and use predictive and data models to find ways to improve daily life for its citizens,[2] with residents being paid for submitting data to The Line.[10]

The estimated building cost is US$100–200 billion (400–700 billion SAR),[8] with some estimates as high as $1 trillion.[11] It is claimed by the Saudi government that it will create 460,000 jobs, spur economic diversification, and contribute 180 billion SAR (US$48 billion) to domestic GDP by 2030.[7]


While looking like a futuristic idea, The Line incorporates many aspects of architectural fantasies from the industrial era:[12]

  • In 1882, the Spanish urban planner Arturo Soria imagined a linear city, based on the innovative use of the tramway. He applied part of his idea to a neighborhood in Madrid but never went further due to lack of support.
  • In the 1950s, the French architect Yona Friedman proposed the concept of an integrated, modular and vertical "spatial city" to solve the problem of urban sprawl, but it remained a simple intellectual curiosity.
  • In the 1960s, the Italian avant-garde group Superstudio presented a radical artistic project: the continuous monument, "an architectural model for total urbanization," which was supposed to cover the entire Earth, but again without any feasibility or real utility.

The plan for The Line was announced on 10 January 2021 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a presentation that was broadcast on state television.[3] Earthworks began in October 2021, and the first residents are expected to move in during 2024.[13] As of July 2022, the first phase of the project was scheduled to be completed in 2030.[7] Bin Salman, as chairman of the Neom board of directors, released a statement and promotional video on 25 July 2021 which led to more widespread media coverage of the project.[14] This raised questions about the merits of the design and environmental issues, with critics concerned that the project would create a "dystopian"[15] and "artificial" facility[16] that had already displaced the Huwaitat indigenous tribe[17][18] and would impact the migration of birds and wildlife.[19]


Excavation progress of The Line (marked with blue arrows, 150km ruler for scale), October 2022

The Line will consist of connected communities called modules. The total structure will consist of 135 modules of each 800 metres in length and 500 metres tall.[20] In October 2022, drone footage released by Ot Sky confirmed that construction on The Line was underway, and excavation works were taking place along the entire length of the project.[21]


The project management had all architects sign confidentiality agreements, which is why there are no references to The Line on any of their websites. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung found out that two well known architects terminated their participation in the project because of human rights and ecological concerns – Norman Foster and Francine Houben from Mecanoo. The paper also reported that several high-ranking architects are still on board: David Adjaye, Ben van Berkel (UN Studios), Massimiliano Fuksas, the London office of the late Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) as well as Delugan Meissl and Wolf D. Prix from Coop Himmelb(l)au. The Süddeutsche criticized the lack of sustainability and the prevailing double standards of the architects in moral issues.[22]

Modules 40-50[edit]

By March 2023, more than 4,500 piles had been driven in module 43, reaching a peak of 60 piles per day. Piling work then shifted towards modules 45, 46 and 47 which are located at the marina. Excavation of about 1 million cubic metres of earth is taking place each week at the marina.[23]


In an interview with Dezeen, associate professor Marshall Brown at Princeton University said he believed that in such large-scale urban planning, it would be difficult to achieve the slick, futuristic aesthetic seen in the concept art because of the large number of factors involved; for example, one of the images depicts a picnic on a 200-metre (660 ft) high ledge, which would probably be illegal in real life.[24] Hélène Chartier of C40 Cities compared The Line to other unrealised linear city projects, such as the 1882 design by Soria and a 1965 proposal for a linear settlement in New Jersey.[24] Dutch architect Winy Maas said that while he would love to live in such an environment, its profile as seen in the concept art was monotonous, and he believed it would facilitate unfavorable wind flow through the interior. He praised the overall concept for tackling densification and heat regulation inside the city.[24]

Philip Oldfield of the University of New South Wales said that the quality of life would probably come down to whether the city was well-managed, rather than to its visual flair.[24] Oldfield said the project would have a carbon footprint of about 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in the glass, steel, and concrete, because "you cannot build a 500-meter-tall building out of low-carbon materials". He said the 170-km profile would create a large-scale barrier to adjacent ecosystems and migratory species similar to that created by highways, and the mirrored exterior facade would be dangerous for birds.[24]

Digital rights researchers such as Vincent Mosco suggested that the city's data collection scheme could make it a "surveillance city", because of arrangements that would distort consent to sharing data, and because Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record might imply potential misuse of data. Neom CEO Joseph Bradley said that the Neom coordinators were resolving privacy issues and that Saudi Arabia had a personal data protection law.[10]

Aside from the merits of the projected city, there was also scrutiny of the actions of the Saudi government in pursuing the project. In October 2022, Shadli, Ibrahim, and Ataullah al-Huwaiti, of the Howeitat tribe, were sentenced to death when they refused to vacate their village as part of the NEOM megaproject.[25] Shadli al-Huwaiti was the brother of Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti, who was shot dead by security forces in April 2020 in his home in Al-Khariba, in the part of Tabuk province earmarked for NEOM, after he posted videos on social media opposing the displacement of local residents to make way for the project.[26]


According to the architect and urban planner Etienne Bou-Abdo, "the 3D images presented are not classical 3D architecture images", and the designers of the project "have rather called upon video game designers". Bou-Abdo stated that the plan includes "a lot of technology that we don't have today".[12] Many of the project's other key announcements, particularly in the areas of energy and transportation, are based on technologies that do not even exist in prototype form.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PROFILE: Who is Nadhmi al-Nasr, the new CEO of Saudi Arabia's NEOM?". Al Arabiya English. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d Summers, Nick (11 January 2021). "Saudi Arabia is planning a 100-mile line of car-free smart communities". Engadget. Archived from the original on 12 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Top Global Oil Exporter Saudi Arabia Launches Car-free City". Barrons. 10 January 2021. Archived from the original on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "What is The Line? All you need to know about Saudi Arabia's plan for a futuristic zero-carbon city". Free Press Journal. Archived from the original on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  5. ^ "An Accelerator of human progress". NEOM. Archived from the original on 8 December 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  6. ^ Tangermann, Victor (12 January 2021). "Saudi Arabia Is Building a Zero-Carbon City in a 100-Mile Straight Line". Futurism. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Saudi Arabia plans 100-mile-long mirrored skyscraper megacity". The Guardian. 27 July 2022. Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  8. ^ a b Rashad, Aziz El Yaakoubi, Marwa (10 January 2021). "Saudi Crown Prince launches zero-carbon city in NEOM business zone". Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Census of Population (2020)". Philippine Statistics Authority. Archived from the original on 11 July 2021.
  10. ^ a b "FEATURE-Saudi 'surveillance city': Would you sell your data to The Line?". Reuters. 23 August 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  11. ^ Nereim, Vivian (14 July 2022). "MBS's $500 Billion Desert Dream Just Keeps Getting Weirder". Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on 15 July 2022. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  12. ^ a b "The Line : ville du futur ou dystopie ?". 4 May 2023.
  13. ^ Nereim, Vivian (31 October 2021). "Saudi Arabia Starts Moving Earth for Its Futuristic Linear City". Archived from the original on 4 March 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  14. ^ "HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces designs for THE LINE, the city of the future in NEOM". Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  15. ^ Bantock, Jack; Brown, Benjamin (27 July 2022). "Future or fantasy? Designs unveiled for one-building city stretching 106 miles in Saudi Arabia". CNN. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  16. ^ Chappell, Bill (26 July 2022). "A 105-mile-long city will snake through the Saudi desert. Is that a good idea?". NPR. Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  17. ^ "This is what Saudi Arabia's 100-mile long emission-free smart city could look like". Engadget. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  18. ^ Hurst, Luke (27 July 2022). "'The Line': Saudi Arabia unveils plans for two 170km-long skyscrapers". euronews. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  19. ^ Alcido, Macy; Ramdeen-Chowdhury, Kamini (28 July 2022). "The Jetsons Meet West World: Saudi Arabia's Smart City Promises Flying Taxis And No Carbon Emissions". Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  20. ^ "Saudi Arabia to build 170 kilometres-long city as part of Neom project". 13 January 2021.
  21. ^ Ravenscroft, Tom (19 October 2022). "Drone footage reveals The Line megacity under construction in Saudi Arabia". Dezeen. Archived from the original on 19 October 2022. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  22. ^ Briegleb, Till (21 March 2023). "Im größten Bordell der Welt / Öko-Stadt "Neom" und die Rolle der Stararchitekten".
  23. ^ "World's largest piling project shifts to the Line's marina". 26 March 2023.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Sustainability and liveability claims of Saudi 170km city are naive, say experts". Dezeen. 8 August 2022.
  25. ^ Rasool, Mohammed (11 October 2022). "Saudi Arabia Sentences 3 Men to Death For Refusing to Vacate NEOM Development Site".
  26. ^ Younes, Ali (15 April 2020). "Saudi forces kill man who refused to give up property: Activists".
  27. ^ "The Line – Saudi Arabia's Controversial 170-Km-Long Linear City of the Future". 15 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.

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