In the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia, a city of the future is taking shape – a destination that will be driven by smart technologies and clean energy to reinvent urban living
Along the untouched Red Sea coast in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a living laboratory is gradually taking shape. Championing a unique vision for humanity’s future, Neom – one of the kingdom’s most-anticipated mega projects – will set new standards in sustainable living and technological innovation. A total of US$500 billion is being channelled into this smart city of the future, which will be powered by artificial intelligence. And it is being designed to coexist peacefully with nature, with the aim of zero carbon emissions.
What is Neom?
This smart city is being built from scratch in the desert. The vision of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it will mirror what "the new future will look like". The name Neom is derived from the Greek word neos, which means new, while the Arabic word for future, mustaqbal, lends the letter m to the portmanteau. This futuristic mega-city will be 33 times the size of New York City and will feature never-before-experienced technologies, activities and more. As one of the world's most ambitious projects, it is being marketed as a new model for sustainable living, working and prospering.
Neom has been planned in northwest Saudi Arabia to allow major cities around the world to access the destination within no more than eight hours of flight time. The city will be powered by clean energy – solar and wind sources – while its carbon-free ecosystem means that cars will not be allowed. A bullet train, hyperloop and bicycles will be the primary modes of transport in the city. Neom will also feature a 'digital air' environment, which makes WiFi free for all its residents.
The Neom project is divided into various sectors, with the first phase set to launch in 2025. Three of the recently introduced sectors are Trojena, Oxagon and The Line.
At Trojena, tourists and residents will be able to enjoy a year-round mountain destination that blends natural and developed landscapes, with elevations ranging from 1,500 metres to 2,600 metres and covering an area of nearly 60 square kilometres. The destination will house six distinctive development districts centred around tailored experiences that blend real with virtual architectural and engineering innovations.
Experiences have been designed to suit the seasons, including a wellness season with yoga retreats from September to November and an adventure season from March to May with thrilling activities such as mountain biking and climbing. The winter season, running from December to March, will feature activities such as ice skating, skiing and snowboarding, while the lake season from May to September will offer cultural events, music festivals and culinary celebrations.
A city within the city, Oxagon brings state-of-the-art approaches of the industrial revolution 4.0 and the circular economy to create factories of the future for products of the future. The place to be for innovators and entrepreneurs, it will function as a fully automated, next-generation port offering unparalleled connectivity to global markets.
Finally, The Line seeks to become the ideal example of an urban city of the future by offering a living experience that blends with nature. With no roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100 per cent renewable energy and 95 per cent of the area will be designated as green spaces. Only 200 metres wide, but 170 kilometres long and 500 metres above sea level, it will eventually accommodate nine million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometres. Everything will be accessible within a five-minute walk and an efficient public transport network will offer an end-to-end journey in just 20 minutes.