Top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia launches car-free city

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on January 10, 2021, shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launching ‘The Line’, a green city that can accomodate about one million people, at NEOM, an area in the north-west of the kingdom currently under development . – Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, announced today the launch of the green city with “zero cars, zero roads, zero CO2 emissions”.
NEOM is on the list of the many mega-projects underway, intended to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia which depends very largely on the export of oil. (Photo by BANDAR AL-JALOUD / various sources / AFP) 

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, announced Sunday the launch of an eco-city “with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” at its futuristic NEOM mega development.

The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom’s picturesque Red Sea coast, is billed as a development evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a city, dubbed “THE LINE”, in a presentation broadcast on state TV.

It consists of “a city of a million residents with a length of 170 kilometres (105 miles) that preserves 95 percent of nature within NEOM, with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions,” he said.

“We need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one,” added the de facto leader of the Arab world’s leading economy, regularly ranked among the world’s most polluting countries.

Prince Mohammed showed computer-generated images of “THE LINE” as well as landscapes of pristine deserts and blue seas.

The pedestrian city will have services such as schools, health centres and green spaces, as well as high-speed public transportation, with no journey expected to take more than 20 minutes, according to a NEOM statement.

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 28, 2018, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C-R) and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R), embracing two children while standing behind the logo for “Qiddiya”, an “entertainment city.” The project is part of a sweeping reform and investment programme dubbed “Vision 2030”, the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; with its first phase, including high-end theme parks, motor sport facilities and a safari area, expected to be completed in 2022.
Aside from Qiddiya, the kingdom has unveiled blueprints to build NEOM, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley, in addition to the Red Sea project, a reef-fringed resort destination — both worth hundreds of billions of dollars. (Photo by BANDAR AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP)

Artificial Intelligence will play a key role in the city, the statement said, adding that “it will be powered by 100 percent clean energy, providing pollution-free, healthier and more sustainable environments for residents”.

Construction of the city will begin in the first quarter of this year, with funding from the Public Investment Fund, the main vehicle through which the kingdom is diversifying its economy beyond oil.

The project is slated to create 380,000 jobs and contribute 180 billion riyals ($48 billion) to the kingdom’s GDP by 2030, the NEOM statement said.

© Agence France-Presse