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The Line Project: City of the Future

Excavation work has begun for The Line, Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future of urban living.

The plan is to construct two parallel skyscrapers, 500 meters high, 200 meters wide, and 170 kilometers long on the northwest coast of the country.  The capacity is envisioned to be a future population of nine million residents.  This remarkable project is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which launched in 2016.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on the CNBC article, Flying taxis, robotic avatars and holograms—Saudi Arabia pushes ahead with its sci-fi city vision, by Emma Proctor, October 25, 2022, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: wizdata/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1.  What elements of project management are evidenced in this article?

Guidance: A project is a one-time set of activities with a designated beginning and ending time.  The job of the project manager is to oversee the execution of the project.  In this case, that will involve ensuring that materials, workers, equipment, subcontractors, inspectors, and others are arriving to the job site at the correct time.  The project manager will track the progress of each aspect of the job, noting any delays and the impact those delays may have on project completion.

From the article, the details of a completion date are not clear, but construction projects are notorious for running into issues and delays. Given the current global supply chain issues, it will be interesting to see how things progress.  In the United States, it has been difficult to obtain materials, particularly in a timely manner, and the costs are often higher than anticipated.

Since the plan was launched in 2016, one wonders if costs and timelines have been affected by the global supply chain crises that have ensued as a result of the COVID pandemic.

2. How will the location of The Line impact logistics for businesses?

Guidance: The Saudis have positioned the Neom development, which consists of The Line and separate industrial and recreational construction projects, next to the Red Sea, in part because 13% of global trade passes through the area.  Also, the Neom area can be reached in six hours by plane by 40% of the world’s inhabitants.

No doubt the trade volume and accessibility of this area of the Middle East played a key role in the location decision. While some infrastructure networks, such as roads or railways to transport materials and products to and from the areas may need to be developed, this centralized location will likely help with the goal of minimizing distance travelled and transportation costs, often key factors in determining the optimal location.

3. What examples of AI are planned for The Line?

Guidance: The plan calls for robotic avatars and holograms to be part of everyday life, although further details are not yet provided.

4. What sustainability benefits or challenges are anticipated for The Line?

Guidance: The plan is for no cars and no roads.  Rather, flying taxis will convey people, and a high-speed rail system will move them from one end of The Line to the other in 20 minutes.

Another part of the larger Neom plan is Oxagon, touted as a “gateway to advanced and clean industries.”  It is envisioned as the largest floating industrial complex ever built.  Planners say that all of the Neom areas will only use renewable energy sources.

Some critics, however, have expressed concerns about carbon emissions. It remains unclear how materials and products will be transported to and from the Neom areas, and if this involves transport by truck, rail, or plane, how this will affect the sustainability of the plan.  For instance, will other countries that are connecting with Saudi Arabia be equally equipped to transport things with the same environmental consciousness that the Kingdom is planning within its borders?

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