Saudi Arabia's Ambitious The Line Project Scales Back

Saudi Arabia’s Ambitious “The Line” Project Scales Back

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious The Line project will scale back to 1.5 miles by 2030 amid financial and ethical challenges, impacting Neom’s grand vision.

The Line

The Line, a highly ambitious megadevelopment in Saudi Arabia initially planned to span 105 miles of desert and house over 9 million people, is undergoing significant changes. 

Recent reports from The Guardian and Bloomberg CityLab indicate that the project’s footprint will be drastically reduced. 

By 2030, The Line is expected to house just 300,000 people and stretch less than 1.5 miles.

Overview of Neom

Neom, the broader development vision spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed, includes:

  • A yachting village
  • A ski resort planned to host the 2029 Olympic Winter Games
  • Various luxury tourist destinations

Despite its grand scale, The Line’s feasibility has been repeatedly questioned. 

Given the royal family’s enthusiastic project promotion, the decision to scale back is surprising.

Financial Constraints

The scale-back is likely due to budgetary issues. Originally projected to cost $1.5 trillion, The Line faced financial hurdles:

  • The Public Investment Fund had yet to approve the 2024 Neom budget.
  • Saudi Aramco reported a nearly 25% drop in 2023 profits, affecting funding availability.

Statements from Officials

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan suggested that extending the project timeline could benefit the economy. 

He emphasized the need for new factories and sufficient human resources, hinting at a possible future revival of The Line project.

Financial DetailsFigures
Initial Projected Cost$1.5 trillion
Saudi Aramco’s Drop in 2023 ProfitsNearly 25%
Expected Population by 2030300,000 people
Expected Length by 2030Less than 1.5 miles

Current Status and Construction

Construction of The Line is underway, and Neom recently released a video showcasing aerial footage of the site. 

The video presents the construction as “the world’s biggest earthworks operation,” showing equipment moving sand into intricate patterns.

According to Dezeen, the construction is divided into 140 “modules,” each designed by a different architecture firm. 

However, it remains to be seen which module is currently in progress.

Controversies and Human Rights Concerns

The project has faced substantial scrutiny and controversy.

The BBC reported that authorities have been permitted to use “lethal force” to evict villagers from the area.

 This follows previous accusations of human rights abuses, including the planned executions of Indigenous protestors in 2023 and the forced removal of over 6,000 individuals from their homes.

Conclusion

While The Line’s vision has been dramatically scaled back, the project continues to progress amid financial and ethical challenges. 

The coming years will reveal whether this ambitious endeavor can overcome its hurdles and achieve its revised goals.

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