Saudi Arabia has started moving earth and tunneling through mountains to build a futuristic linear city that officials hope will host its first residents in 2024, the project’s chief executive said.
Employees are still developing regional master plans and a “founding law” for the mega-project called Neom, Nadhmi Al-Nasr said in an interview in Riyadh. But they’ve already started early infrastructure work on its main feature – a 170-kilometre (105-mile) long car-free city called “The Line” that could begin welcoming inhabitants and tourists as early as the first quarter of 2024, he said…
His plans to turn the remote region on the kingdom’s northwest Red Sea coast into a futuristic tech hub encapsulates the major elements of his so-called ‘Vision 2030’ to diversify away from crude, loosen social restrictions and boost investment…
One of the next steps could be the approval of the special regulations that will govern Neom as a “free zone”, with different laws than the rest of Saudi Arabia, Al-Nasr said. That could be completed around the first quarter of next year, he said.
Two features of this possible city are not a surprise. The emphasis on tech is a feature of many city plans, whether for whole new cities or for existing places. Everyone sees opportunity, money, and status in tech. Similarly, the idea of a “free zone” is common as it opens possibilities for business and international culture. Theoretically, a country could reap the benefits of such a location while also overseeing a uniquely setting with fewer regulations.
What may be most unique here is the concept of a linear car-free city. The world’s largest cities today are huge sprawling areas. But, starting with no cars and having a linear city rather than one expanding out from some center sound different. How exactly such a large expanse could be connected to itself so hat it feels like the same community remains to be seen.
Such construction will be a lengthy process, even in a country with lots of resources. And then there is a process of developing a community which adds time. At some point, Neom might join other free zone cities as new kinds of global places.