NEOM’s ‘The Line’ 2030 Vision Altered: Saudi Arabia’s Mega-Project Shifts Course

In the grand narrative of urban development, few projects have captured the imagination, just like NEOM’s ambitious city: The Line. Marketed as a beacon of futuristic living, it promised to accommodate 1.5 million residents by 2030.

However, recent revelations show that the project has been dramatically downsized and may have the capacity for only 300,000. This raises questions about the future of the world’s most expensive development project, showcasing the challenges of large-scale urban planning today.

The 2030 Vision

In 2021, Saudi Arabia made a groundbreaking announcement that stirred the global community: the ambitious project known as “The Line,” which positioned itself as a flagship endeavor within the Kingdom’s visionary NEOM development. 

The Line aimed to redefine urban living and sustainability on an unprecedented scale, stretching 170 kilometers in length and accommodating 1.5 million residents by 2030.

This innovative city would be free from cars and carbon emissions. It would feature 200-meter mirror walls to optimize sunlight and energy efficiency, reflecting The Line’s commitment to creating a livable, environmentally conscious urban environment.

The project, following NEOM’s idea of “Zero Gravity Urbanism,” promised different levels for living, working, and recreational activities stacked within its tall, mirrored walls, fostering efficiency.

High-speed trains powered by renewable energy sources would connect the city from end to end, as envisioned by architecture firms like Morphosis, Cook Haffner Architecture Platform, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, HOK, LAVA, and OMA.

Downsizing the Line

The ambitious project, initially envisioned to accommodate 1.5 million residents by 2030, has faced a significant downsizing, the Saudi government sources told Bloomberg.

Originally planned to span an impressive 170 kilometers, the revolutionary linear city has now been scaled down drastically to a mere 2.4 kilometers. This downsizing has resulted in layoffs for workers at the site in Saudi Arabia.

The decision to shrink The Line’s scope comes amid reports that NEOM’s budget for 2024 is pending approval by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), which oversees investments abroad and the rapid development of Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure.

Looking Ahead to the Future of NEOM

Despite this setback, NEOM remains one of the most anticipated development projects in the region and perhaps the whole world, set to encompass a total of ten regions, each offering unique attractions and opportunities.

Among these, Oxagon, a floating port city conceptualized by the Danish studio BIG, promises to redefine maritime living experiences.

Additionally, the ski adventure resort Trojena will cater to thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, providing an unparalleled winter sports experience in the desert landscape. Meanwhile, Sindalah, a luxury island resort, is expected to be the first region to reach completion, with plans to welcome guests as early as this year.

These diverse regions within NEOM showcased the breadth of innovation and luxury and envision a transformative shift in tourism and lifestyle offerings in the region.

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