Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced plans for radical new city development in the northwest of the country, in a section of desert close to the Red Sea. The city will run entirely on renewable energy and eventually be home to around 9 million people.
Yet, the real eye-opener of this futuristic metropolis is the design of the city’s buildings themselves, or should we say, “building”, as the city will be called “The Line” and comprise a single, massive wall-like structure that will extend for 170km, while standing 200 meters wide and 500 meters tall. If everything goes to plan, this single-building city will easily break the record for the world’s largest building.
The massive development is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s NEOM project, which plans to turn a remote area of the country into a high-tech semi-autonomous state. The plan hopes to attract foreign investment and eventually usher Saudi Arabia into a post-oil economy.
Technical details about the project are scarce. However, there’s no denying the plans look impressive: A recently released video shows a striking mirrored glass facade, three-dimensional living, plenty of green spaces, and multi-level walkways, with high-speed travel that connects each end of the structure in just 20 minutes.
Despite inspirational taglines such as “a civilizational revolution that puts humans first”, the scheme has attracted criticism, with some architects finding the design a little too dystopian for their tastes. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that The Line will embody “Zero Gravity Urbanism” and has issued a statement about his ambitious project:
“The designs revealed today for the city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability.”
So when can we hope to see the foundations laid on this futuristic project? So far, the NEOM project has received $500 billion in backing from the Saudi Arabia government and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Plans were initially scheduled for 2025 but have since been postponed by another 5 years, though officials insist the project remains on track.
LEAP 2024 Will Shine A Light On Female Innovators In Technology
Women comprise nearly a third of the event’s speaker lineup alongside a dedicated program of high-level content, investment, and mentorship.
LEAP 2024, a premier global technology event, will highlight the achievements of women in the technology sector as it returns for its third edition at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham district from March 4 to 7.
Hosted by Tahaluf, a strategic collaboration between Informa PLC, the Events Investment Fund (EIF), and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones (SAFCSP), LEAP 2024 will feature a dedicated program titled “Women in Tech”. The program will offer enriching content, investment opportunities, networking sessions, mentorship programs, and a special startup award.
The initiative aims to inspire women to actively participate in the technology industry, aligning with broader diversity efforts. Reflecting the Kingdom’s commitment to equality, the focus on “Women in Tech” coincides with the increasing female participation at LEAP events.
Annabelle Mander, Senior Vice President of Tahaluf, emphasized the event’s commitment to gender inclusivity, stating, “Female representation is across all of LEAP’s features and reflects the event’s mission of driving economic diversification and providing market access to international business. Within Tahaluf itself, half of our team members are women, and women make up half of our SMT, too”.
The “Women in Tech” program will feature distinguished speakers including Nadine Hachach Haram, CEO and Founder of Proximie, and Sahar Albanarna from IMPACTIQUE Bahrain, who explained: “Over 26 million women worldwide with professional experience and degrees are not in the global workplace. This demographic includes a huge pool of untapped talent which technology can help unleash to fuel the co-creation of exponential solutions across multiple sectors. To help women access productive employment, we urge industry leaders to support high-impact female entrepreneurs as a means to boost their economies and accelerate the UN’s sustainable development goals by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.
The event will also provide a platform for female-led startups and entrepreneurs to pitch for funding and support through various initiatives such as the Women’s Investor Forum, Entrepreneur Mentorship Scheme, and the Aviatrix Award at the Rocket Fuel pitch competition, offering a prize fund of US$150,000.