Saudi Crown Prince Plans Car-Free City for Future Beyond Oil

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince unveiled his latest vision for a future beyond oil in the kingdom: a car- and road-free city with zero carbon emissions.

The 170 kilometer-long (106 miles) development called “The Line” will be part of a previously-announced $500 billion mega-project called “Neom,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a televised speech on Sunday. Construction is planned to start in the first quarter of this year. A news release described The Line as a walkable “belt of hyper-connected future communities, without cars and roads and built around nature.” It said the city would have 1 million residents and create 380,000 jobs by 2030. It didn’t provide details on the plan’s expected cost or how it would be funded.

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The announcement on Sunday shows the extent to which Prince Mohammed is thinking about life after oil for the kingdom, which earned over half of government revenue from crude in 2020. The project was also the first major development to be announced within Neom.

“Why do we accept sacrificing nature for development?” the prince asked, speaking of rising sea levels and carbon emissions in a manner rare for a Saudi official. The city, he said, would be a “revolution for mankind” with “zero cars, zero streets, zero emissions.”

No journey within The Line will be longer than 20 minutes, he said. The city would be built around “ultra-high-speed transit and autonomous mobility solutions,” the news release said without providing further details.

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