Plans for a self-sufficient futuristic smart city have been well underway in Tabuk Province, in the far temperate northwest region of Saudi Arabia.
Known as NEOM, this new $500 billion project is the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and is designed to pioneer what will arguably be one of the world’s largest futuristic architectural projects.
The below video explains the project very well:
Although the smart city project was first announced in 2017 and set to be completed in 2020, plans quickly fell behind schedule. However, almost six years after it was made public, Saudi’s mega city has made significant progress in its building phase, according to its first progress film.
Solving Urban Living Challenges
NEOM has garnered substantial attention over the years, and rightfully so, given the almost sci-fi quality of the mega city’s plans. Spanning around 26,500 square kilometers, NEOM consists of ten projects or regions, all with unique design purposes dedicated to revolutionizing urban living.
NEOM is designed to confront and solve several critical challenges in urban settlements worldwide, including pollution, traffic, and lack of sustainability. The city aims to retain the nature of its environment by utilizing game-changing technology and clean, renewable energy to ensure zero emissions and a carbon-positive ecosystem.
Additionally, NEOM will implement other progressive strategies to protect nature reserves and fight pressing global challenges, including exploring water desalination to generate water production. It also has ambitious plans to be home to the world’s largest green hydrogen plant and the world’s most food-self-sufficient city, according to livemint.
What Will Be In NEOM?
One thing is pretty clear- NEOM will have no cars on its street. This is because the city will be built with a layout where residents can access necessities within a 5-minute walk.
Of the ten regions in NEOM, only four have been announced: Oxagon, Trojena, Sindalah, and The Line.
Oxagon is designed to be an octagon-shaped floating port city built on the Red Sea. Trojena will be the city’s ski resort nestled in the Sarwat mountains. Meanwhile, Sindalah will be an island resort in the Red Sea.
A report from Earth Curious suggests that the island resort of Sindalah will have 413 premium hotel rooms: including 88 villas, and 333 world-class service apartments, 51 luxury retail outlets, a beach club, yacht club, sports club, spa and wellness centers, and 38 restaurants.
The Line is the most popular of all currently announced projects, and it is designed to be home to nine million residents. According to The Crown Prince, The Line “… will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”
Growing Population In The Coming Years
According to the NEOM developer, 2,400 staff currently live and work at NEOM. These include some of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering, and other facets of technology. As The Crown Prince claimed in thenationalnews, NEOM’s economic zone would reach a capacity of 450,000 by 2026
The plans for this “wonder city” are quite ambitious, as a significant percentage is set to be completed by 2030. The welcome mat for the first residents will be rolled out by 2024, and by 2030, there is an aim to have an estimated one million people living in NEOM.
Controversies And Skepticism
While the concept of a fully technological society seems impressive, many people consider it a utopian dream. This is mostly because NEOM is not an original concept but one that rose from the ashes of previous ideas like the Linear City in 1965.
While skeptics may applaud the future-oriented images that NEOM may portray, there is no denying that similar previous ideas never reached fruition.
Many critics also point out controversies in human rights and liveability challenges. Although NEOM is situated in Saudi Arabia, it is set to be regarded as an independent ‘country’ of its own.
In light of this, NEOM is set to adopt its economic strategies and regulations, including choosing to serve alcohol in its beach resort. As a result, there are concerns about NEOM’s possible liberalization from the current conservative ruling in Saudi.
When Will NEOM complete?
With over 20% of the project’s infrastructure completed, NEOM is expected to open its doors to tourists and residents by 2024. It is also projected that a significant portion of the project will be completed by the year 2030.
In conclusion, while NEOM may be regarded as an urban-living post-modern fantasy, there is no denying that it is making rapid structural progress. In the next few years, NEOM will be completed and take its stronghold as one of the biggest and newest self-functioning cities in the world.