“Throughout history, cities have been built to protect their citizens. After the industrial revolution, cities prioritized machines, cars, and factories over people” Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince announcing the launch of the first futuristic, fully automated shopping mall in history (2017): NEOM
This one, designed not to be a conventional city, but rather futuristic and avant-garde, is ready to overturn the schemes that have characterized our cities for centuries to succeed in making the world, at least in its own small way, a better place.
Neom will be built on a line that will stretch 170 km, consisting of a set of small nodes connected by an underground infrastructure. The city will be car- and road-free, powered by 100% renewable energy, and will house the world’s largest green hydrogen plant. It will also unveil a new water desalination system consisting of domes that will collect solar energy and use it to evaporate seawater, one of many zero-carbon processes that Neom will implement.
What attracts the most attention in this city is the technological and environmental plan “zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions”. NEOM drawings show the city’s infrastructure and services arranged on three levels:
1. PEDESTRIAN LAYER
2. SERVICE LAYER
3. SPINE LAYER
High-speed transit is designed to reach people anywhere in the city within 20 minutes. The Line designs neighborhoods that integrate within them residential, commercial and primary areas. All essential daily services such as schools, medical clinics and leisure facilities, as well as green spaces, will be within a maximum of a five-minute walk.
Walkability and a People&Nature-first approach will redesign the relationship between people’s mobility. This new energy paradigm will be a turning point for the future of mobility. Neom is poised to be a paradigm shift that will transform the way people, nature and technology will have ways to interact and integrate. Walkability and cycling will inspire human-centered, nature-friendly urban design that will allow transportation innovation to flourish, creating a seamlessly connected sustainable mobility ecosystem.
Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should 7 million people die every year from pollution? Why should we lose 1 million people every year to traffic accidents? And why should we agree to waste years of our lives commuting? Importantly, how long will it take other cities to integrate NEOM’s people- and nature-first approach?
- Neom, https://www.neom.com/en-us
- Khaled Fallatah, Guide for Sustainable Design of NEOM City, 2019
- Ramanath Jha, (15 May 2021), The brand new futuristic Saudi city—‘The Line’: An appraisal, in orfonline.org, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-brand-new-futuristic-saudi-city-the-line-an-appraisal/
- The Line, https://www.neom.com/en-us/whatistheline
- Zineb Williams, (22 August 2021), The Future City Neom Will Transform Saudi Society, in borgenmagazine.com, https://www.borgenmagazine.com/the-future-city-neom/
- (15 April 2021), Neom – Saudi Arabia’s sustainable vision of the future, in en-former.com, https://www.en-former.com/en/neom-saudi-arabias-sustainable-vision-of-the-future/