Saudi Arabia's NEOM and The Line to be massively scaled down

Saudi Arabia's NEOM and The Line to be massively scaled down
NEOM is the flagship project of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, but there have been huge questions about its viability.
2 min read
08 April, 2024
Saudi Arabia has invested a great deal in the success of NEOM [Getty]

Saudi Arabia's ambitious $500 billion NEOM mega-project, a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 plan, could be downscaled, according to reports.

One of the key aspects of the west coast development is the The Line, which is planned to host 1.5 million people by 2030 but has now been downsized to 300,000 residents, Saudi government sources told Bloomberg.

The length of the revolutionary linear city has also been scaled down from a staggering 170km to just 2.4km with workers at the site in northwestern Saudi Arabia reportedly laid off.

It comes after sources said that NEOM's budget for 2024 is yet to be approved by the Public Investment Fund (PFI), the body headed by MbS which is behind investments overseas and the rapid transformation of Saudi Arabia's infrastructure.

NEOM is a huge development project that could span three countries, which designers say will include street-less cities and a winter sports resort in the desert.

This was part of the crown prince's ambitious diversification plan to ween the kingdom off its reliance on oil and make Saudi Arabia a regional, or even global, hub for tech, tourism, business, and entertainment.

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While the PFI has not confirmed the reports of the downscale, Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said in December that more time was needed to "build factories, build even sufficient human resources".

"The delay or rather the extension of some projects will serve the economy."

Others have questioned the viability of the project with many of the planned urban innovations - such as The Line - still technologically impossible, and a range of economic, environmental, and political challenges to this never-seen-before megacity.

Saudi Aramco, the financial juggernaut behind Riyadh's spending spree, has suffered a huge drop in profits this year.