A brand-new artificial city in the middle of Saudi Arabia – one which may one day feature robot dinosaurs and its own miniature moon – currently exists as just a line on a map.
And that’s all it is supposed to be: The Line is the first part of NEOM, a futuristic $500-billion, clean-energy powered city of the future that consists of several “city modules” arranged along one single 106-mile long road in the middle of the desert.
While it’s based around a single long road, The Line isn’t for car owners. According to a preview video issued by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the city of tomorrow is designed for walkers, with longer journeys handled by an underground Hyperloop train that will cover the 100-mile journey from one end of the city the other in just 20 minutes.
The "linear city" isn't a completely new idea. It's based on a long-neglected idea from a Spanish engineer named Don Arturo Soria y Mata who in 1882 came up with an idea for a perfect city he called "La Ciudad Lineal".
All of NEOM's one million residents will live within a five-minute walk of essential facilities. "High-speed transportation, utilities, digital infrastructure, and logistics will be seamlessly integrated in dedicated spaces running in an invisible layer along The Line," said a statement.
The city will apparently be dependent on artificial intelligence to run most of its infrastructure, and renewable energy to supply all of its power needs. “Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development?” asks the Crown Prince in his video, “why should seven million people die every year because of pollution?"
He also points out that car free cities worldwide will save the one million people that would otherwise every year due to traffic accidents.
"By 2050, commute durations will double," he said. "By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90% of people breathe polluted air."
His city of the future is the answer to all that, he says.
There are quite a few sceptics. One Twitter user, responding to the official announcement of The Line posted online, said: “Saudi Arabia, who has become hugely wealthy by selling oil. A country who currently produces 12,000,000 barrels a day, is lecturing us on pollution Rolling on the floor laughing I’ve heard it all now!”
Simon Withers, a senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Greenwich, told the Daily Star that The Line sounded to him like "A hundred-mile shopping mall… a veritable vision of Hell."
We’ll soon find out whether this is a step into a brand new future or just a pipe dream. Construction on The Line is set to begin by April of this year.
What do you think? Does The Line seem visionary or bonkers to you ?Let us know in the comments below!