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Incredible look inside Saudi Arabia’s $1 trillion giga-project The Line
Featured Image Credit: NEOM

Incredible look inside Saudi Arabia’s $1 trillion giga-project The Line

Saudi Arabia is publishing plans for 'The Line' as part of its ambitious project NEOM, though the project has already run into challenges

Images show an ambitious vision for Saudi Arabia's project NEOM, including a city called The Line.

The futuristic megacity is being built on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast.

It is the flagship project for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's policy programme Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 is a programme to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy, including reducing the kingdom's economic dependance on oil.

Speaking in 2022 the Crown Prince, who is the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, said: “We cannot ignore the liveability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues."

NEOM, of which The Line is a part, is central to this. The Line is a single 170km-long and 200m wide city, without cars.

Instead, it would be accessed by a train running down its centre, carrying residents from one end to the other.

Illustrations of the project give the impression of a green utopia, with no greenhouse gas emissions.

Mohammed Bin Salman at the Indonesia G20 Summit in 2022.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

A description of The Line on NEOM's website reads: "No roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature. "People's health and wellbeing will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure, unlike traditional cities."

But the project has already run into problems, including with the land earmarked for its construction.

In February 2023, Middle East Eye reported that at least 47 members of the Al-Howeitat tribe in Saudi Arabia had been either arrested or detained for resisting eviction from the land in Saudi Arabia's Tabuk province to make way for the project.

A report by human rights organisation Alqst called The Dark Side of Neom also found that 14 members of the Al-Howeitat tribe had been given prison sentences between 15 and 50 years.

A vision of The Line.

At least three were sentenced to death for 'peacefully resisting the forcible displacement of their tribe.'

Furthermore, an investigation by the Centre for Climate Reporting and Channel 4 News revealed that the kingdom is also looking to artificially stimulate demand for fossil fuels in Africa as more developed economies embrace greener technology.

In the report, one Saudi official said: "EVs (electric vehicles) are being favoured in terms of subsidies and regulatory advantage especially in regions like Africa so what we are working on is to increase internal combustion engine adoptions."

After the investigation, Mohammed Adow, director of African environmental campaign group Power Shift Africa, told Channel 4 News: "They are trying to use Africa’s poverty to enslave us to their fossil fuels."

Saudi Arabia didn't respond to requests for comment on the investigation from Channel 4 News.

Topics: News, World News, Technology, Environment, Climate Change