"The Line" is totally reimagining how we live and work in cities.

By Stacey Leasca
January 12, 2021
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thinks the future can be now. All it will cost is a cool $500 billion.

In early January, the crown prince unveiled his work on a new planned community in Saudi Arabia called "The Line." As the name suggests, the community will be built along a 106-mile straight line, which could one day be home to one million people. The one thing it won't be home to is any cars, marking a significant shift in culture in one of the world's largest oil-producing countries in an effort to better diversify its national income.

According to NDTV, The Line is part of the larger project known as "Neom," which will sit along the Red Sea. The Line will connect the various communities throughout Neom and act as its main thoroughfare where citizens can walk from one place to another. According to the prince, it will be paid for "by the Saudi government, PIF, and local and global investors over 10 years." 

"Throughout history, cities were built to protect their citizens. After the industrial revolution, cities prioritized machines, cars, and factories over people," the crown prince said in a video announcement. "In cities that are viewed as the world's most advanced, people spend years of their lives commuting. By 2050, commute durations will double. By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. Ninety percent of people breathe polluted air." 

He added, "Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution?"

According to the prince, no walking commute along The Line will take more than two minutes. For those who need a lift, the prince added that the city will be built with "ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions." 

However, there are several detractors of the project. As Middle East Eye reported, Walid al-Hathloul, the brother of jailed women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, does not believe the project will ever come to fruition and is just an attempt by the prince to gain notoriety,

"Mohammed bin Salman thinks that building cities will happen in the same way as it does in video games. He thinks that with this nonsense he puts in the media that he will make history and make himself glorious," al-Hathloul remarked.

In a press release, the crown prince pushed forward, claiming construction on the project will begin in the first quarter of 2021 and will create more than 300,000 new jobs in the process.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.