What's NEOM City (The Line)? The Saudi $500 Billion's Project

As described on the official website of the project, THE LINE or NEOM project in Saudi Arabia which will costs more than One Trillion SAR, It’s an attempt to do something that’s never been done before and it’s coming at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. Simply put, NEOM will be a destination, a home for people who dream big and want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living, working, and prospering. The project is a civilizational revolution that puts humans first, providing an unprecedented urban living experience while preserving the surrounding nature.

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Saudi Arabia has just unveiled its plans for the biggest construction project ever. The Mirror Line is supposed to be 500 meters tall and an incredible 170 kilometers long. But why do they propose such insane plans? 

What is NEOM (The Line) city project?

NEOM aims to be the future of livability as its foundation, unprecedented in scope. The name "NEOM" is derived from two words. The first three letters from the Ancient Greek prefix neo-meaning "new". The fourth letter is from the abbreviation of Mostaqbal, an Arabic word meaning "future".

NEOM is established as a closed joint-stock company on January 22, 2019, fully owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

The NEOM project aims to achieve exceptional livability, thriving businesses, and reinventing conservation, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The government of Saudi Arabia unveiled plans last year for the city of NEOM, the idea for which was first proposed a year and a half ago. As part of the project, Riyadh is planning a massive megastructure called The Line.

In presenting the grandiose undertaking, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman noted that "this design will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability. “The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”

It is to be composed of two parallel skyscrapers that stretch for 170 kilometers, from the Red Sea shore through the desert toward the mountains, will be 200 meters wide and soar to a height of 500 meters (higher than most of the world’s towers), and will be faced on all sides with gigantic mirrors.

NEOM is a new destination being created in the Northwest of Saudi Arabia. Based along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba, at the intersection of Asia, Europe, and Africa, and along one of the world's busiest economic arteries, NEOM is strategically placed at the crossroads of the world with an area of 25,500km2. NEOM is just an 8-hour flight from 70% of the global population.

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Besides residential areas slated to house nine million people, The Line will contain shopping and leisure sites, schools, and parks. The press releases touted various other features: the predominantly horizontal design of homes and shops; the transportation system that will connect both ends of the city; the fact that it will run on renewable and sustainable sources of energy. The Line is the central feature of the huge NEOM plan for Saudi Arabia that includes agricultural and industrial areas, tourist attractions, and an airport.

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Moreover, NEOM will be home to Oxagon, a city that floats on water that stretches for 7 kilometers, making it the largest floating building in the world. NEOM CEO Nazmi Al-Nasr said the port city "will welcome its first tenants at the beginning of 2022."

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The Saudis may think that this is a wholly original project, but in terms of form at least, its architectural imagery is rather shopworn. Indeed, back in 1965, American architects Michael Graves and Peter Eisenman designed The Linear City. Their vision included the creation a continuous linear, urban bloc along the East Coast, from Boston to Washington, and focused particularly on a 35-kilometer (22-mile) stretch in New Jersey. Their plans called for a megastructure composed of two mammoth, strip-like edifices – one for industry and the other for housing, offices, and shops.

One of Neom's housing complexes for employees. Photographer: Iman Al-Dabbagh.

This 300-billion-riyal ($80 billion) flagship mega-project will be open for IPOs on the Kingdom’s stock market as early as 2024.

Neom will sell shares to the public in 2024, adding nearly $266 billion to the market. It is one of the largest and most complex construction programs in the world.

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Features of NEOM project as announced by Saudi Arabia

  • The project is located on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba with a total area of ​​26,500 square kilometers.
  • The project extends from the northwest of the Kingdom, and includes lands within the Egyptian and Jordanian borders.
  • Saudi Arabia has established a special authority to supervise the NEOM project headed by the Crown Prince, and it will be supported by the Public Investment Fund, in addition to local and international investors.
  • Saudi Arabia and Egypt have established a joint fund of $10 billion to develop land on an area of ​​more than 1,000 square kilometers in South Sinai within the NEOM project, and a Saudi official told Reuters that Riyadh’s part in the joint investment fund will be cash to help develop the Egyptian side of the “NEOM” project. ."
  • The project will rely on renewable energy sources only.
  • The Kingdom will establish 7 marine tourist attractions between cities and tourism projects in NEOM, in addition to 50 resorts and 4 small cities in a separate tourism project in the Red Sea, while Egypt will focus on developing the resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.
  • The NEOM project will focus on 9 specialized investment sectors.
  • The project is a special investment zone that is excluded from the ordinary laws and regulations of the state, such as taxes, customs, labor laws and other legal restrictions on business, with the exception of sovereign regulations, which will allow the zone the ability to manufacture products and provide services at globally competitive prices.
  • The first phase of the project will end in 2025, and the project is expected to be completed within a period of 30 to 50 years.

But, Can they really make it happen? Or are there other intentions behind it. Let's find out.

Is NEOM project is executable project or just a sci-fi idea?

Saudi's newly unveiled plan for NEOM – a megacity with two 170-kilometer-long structures that will house nine million people – has left architects aghast, including A wide range of people in many western countries calling it a 'science-fiction jumble'.

This 'insane' project is based 'on blind faith in the power of technology to solve humanity’s problems,' says one American scholar.

The official site claims that NEOM will become "the world's most food self-sufficient city", and paints a vision of vertical farming and green houses (greenhouses), which is revolutionary for a country that currently imports about 80 percent of its food. There are questions about whether this can be achieved sustainably.

An investigation published by “Bloomberg” showed that the NEOM project, which was announced in 2017, is going through great challenges, and it seems that transforming it from science fiction into reality is still difficult.

The investigation dealt with a huge amount of corruption and unaccounted spending of billions of dollars on the project, based on interviews with more than 25 personalities of current and former employees of the project.

They revealed shocking information about the amount of financial waste that is taking place in the NEOM project, which is nothing more than a fantasy, according to what many confirm.

The investigation concluded that “this project still suffers from many setbacks, many of which are caused by the difficulty of implementing Muhammad bin Salman’s lavish and ever-changing ideas, as well as from the difficulty of confronting the prince, who does not hesitate to imprison many of his family members when they tell him that his desires cannot be fulfilled. “.

She stressed that "NEOM's turbulent journey so far indicates that Mohammed bin Salman Al-Hadari's dream may never come true. The same goes for his broader plans for economic transformation.”

“What has been demonstrated there is the complete absence of any connection to reality, objectively,” says Andy Wirth, an American hospitality manager who worked at NEOM in 2020.

The investigation reviewed many failure stories in the project, including the "Silver Beach Project", and a solar field at a cost of $200 billion, which was soon canceled soon after it was announced.

She pointed out how to spend lavishly on foreign employees while Saudi citizens are deprived of these funds, as she said that “NEOM offered some senior foreign employees tax-free salaries ranging between 700,000 and 900,000 dollars, and this is more than twenty times the average income of a Saudi employee, in addition to to a wide range of other benefits.

You can check and read the full text of the first episode of Bloomberg's investigation of the Saudi "NEOM" project.

Q&A about Neom city (The Line City)

Is NEOM a real city?

Why is NEOM called NEOM?

What is the meaning of NEOM. NEOM stands for New Future. It is made from Greek word neos, meaning "new," and mustaqbal, the Arabic word for "future.".

Who is the owner of NEOM?

The Public Investment Fund is the main investor in the "NEOM" area, a project that uses advanced technologies located on an area of ​​26,500 square kilometers on the Red Sea, and includes a number of areas, including industrial and logistical areas, and is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Is NEOM city construction started?

The foundation works for the Line in NEOM City have officially commenced. This was announced by the project's contractor, Trevi Arabian Soil Contractors. The latter is a subsidiary of the subsoil engineering specialist, Trevi Group.

According to the company, the foundation works began right after the completion of test piles. The test piles were used to identify the best execution technology that will be required to carry out the project. The diameter of the piles ranges from well about 1.5 meters to 2.5 meters.

When will the NEOM project be completed?

According to the statements of the official authorities in Saudi Arabia, The first phase of the project will end in 2025, and the project is expected to be completed within a period of 30 to 50 years.

Where is the NEOM project located in Saudi Arabia?

The city of NEOM is located in the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and this project is known as a cross-border project, because it includes parts of the territory of the Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Republic of Egypt, with an area of 26,500 square kilometers.

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