by Dušan Cvetković
Dušan Cvetković
Published October 10, 2023

Saudi Arabia recently unveiled plans for an ambitious new sustainable city project known as The Line. This mega development promises a futuristic, utopian community powered entirely by renewable energy. However, a project of this scale faces immense challenges. In this article, we dive deep into The Line to understand its visionary goals, potential benefits, and the obstacles it must overcome.

Overview: Introducing the Vision for The Line

This project is a planned linear megacity to be built vertically along a 170 km stretch in northwest Saudi Arabia. Masterminded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Line aims to eventually house 9 million residents across just 34 sq km of land. This compact structure will eliminate the need for cars, roads, and emissions.

Introducing the Vision for The Line

The city will instead rely on AI and renewable energy to enable a high-quality lifestyle. Residents of this city will live in a verdant, pedestrian-friendly environment with access to amenities and nature. The Line hopes to be a model for environmental urbanism and a hub for innovation.

The Promises and Potential Perks

Backers have touted eye-catching benefits that the megacity could bring:

  • World-Class Quality of Life - A luxury island poised to welcome guests in 2024. Think premium hotels, marinas, beaches and yacht clubs.
  • Business Innovation - The Line offers a "living laboratory" for companies to test emerging technologies in areas like AI, robotics, and sustainability.
  • Environmental Sustainability - With zero-emission transit and buildings powered by renewables, The Line is positioned as a green urban solution. Its compact footprint also preserves natural habitats.
  • Strong Community - Residents of The Line will live in close proximity with easy access to services. This promotes social cohesion and walkable neighborhoods.

Promises and Perks


The Challenges Facing The Line's Success

Executing such an ambitious undertaking won't be easy. Experts have highlighted several risks:

  • Costs - The price tag for building and maintaining the city could reach $1 trillion, exceeding budgets. Many doubt Saudi Arabia will finance the entire project.
  • Environmental Impact - While designed as a "green" city, its construction may disrupt local habitats and strain resources.
  • Governance - Reliance on advanced technology raises concerns about transparency and accountability in city management.
  • Timing - With an estimated 50-year timeline, experts question if The Line will be built as designed or if plans will stall.

Early Progress Provides Clues

Although the city won't be completed for decades, construction is now visibly underway. Recent drone footage reveals work on initial infrastructure like roads and facilities to house construction crews. This offers clues into how The Line is progressing.

Seeing early glimpses of development provides more context around timelines and scales. However, many unknowns remain about whether the full vision will be realized.

The Line won't be completed for decades


The Line: An Ambitious Moonshot for the Future

This project represents a bold reimagining of how we design and power cities to prioritize people and the planet. But pulling off a project of this scope faces doubts. Can The Line overcome challenges related to costs, governance, and environmental impacts?

While its future remains uncertain, The effort pushes boundaries on urban innovation. Even if only partially completed, The Line will offer valuable insights to inform more sustainable models for living. Its success hinges on turning vision into reality.

An Ambitious Moonshot for the Future

The Road Ahead

The Line stands at the crossroads of a visionary model for the future and a grand challenge of today's urbanism. Its potential impact can redefine the principles of sustainable living and city planning.

For more insights into innovative developments like this, visit our blog.

About the Author

Dušan Cvetković is a professional architect from Serbia with international experience in the industry. Collaborated with numerous clients all around the world in the field of architecture design, 3D modeling and software education. He's been teaching Rhinoceros3D to thousands of architects through How to Rhino community and various social media channels.