A new city with no way for cars. Do you find it impossible in the 21st century, especially with the advances made by the electric vehicle sector? Mohammed bin Salman, prince of Saudi Arabia, disagrees – and he already has plans to put that idea into practice. Also one of the richest people on the planet, he promised to build a network of smart cities called The Line, bringing to light “future hyperconnected communities” free of cars.
The announcement is part of the NEOM project, with grants of “just” $ 500 billion. According to bin Salman, ultra-fast traffic, autonomous solutions and a route that guarantees access to basic facilities over a distance of at most five minutes of walking will be part of the undertaking, such as schools and medical clinics.
In addition, organizers involved, in a press release, stated that 20 minutes will be the limit for any trip.
About 170 km long, 1 million people are expected to live on The Line, powered by 100% clean energy, focused on nature and whose surface will be entirely dedicated to pedestrians, while additional layers for infrastructure and transport will be “hidden” “under the ground.
Artificial intelligence, in turn, will monitor the region, based on constant data collection and predictive models aimed at improving residents’ daily lives.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2021 and was included in the plans of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to generate 380 thousand jobs and US $ 48 billion of gross domestic product for the country.
There are “buts”
Although surprising, The Line is not without controversy. According to The Guardian, the region in which it is intended to be erected is currently occupied by the Huwaitat tribe, which has even asked the United Nations for help to stop forced evictions and abuses by Saudi officials.
Among the various facts about the scenario, Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti, a member of the community, was killed by local security forces last year after releasing a video explaining the situation. According to the Government, he would have reacted to an approach. Homosexuality, for now, is illegal in the country, and women have highly restricted rights. There is also a long history of human rights violations there.
Just to give you an idea, commentators and sports fans forced Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends and Valorant, to abandon a sponsorship deal that would be signed with NEOM at the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), if saying disappointed with the partnership.