'Tax'. Saudi Arabia withdraws ambition from future city

A highly ambitious plan and lack of funds led Saudi authorities to slow down the project.

Saudi Arabia has set back ambitions to build a futuristic city in the desert, dubbed The Line, or the dash to be a city in a straight line.

Initially, the government aimed for 1.5 million people to live in the city by 2030, but the forecast was revised downwards: according to “Bloomberg”, less than 300 thousand people by the end of the decade.

The city will be built in phases along the 170 km stretch of Red Sea coast. But by 2030, 2.4 km.

The structure will be 500 meters above sea level and 200 meters wide.

The aim is to accommodate nine million people in just 34 km2, served by high-speed rail, with 100% renewable energy, without roads, cars or emissions.

Saudi officials declined to comment.

In addition to this line, Neom's plan includes an industrial city, ports, tourism projects and the hosting of the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in Trojena.

One of the projects, an island in the Red Sea, has been converted into a luxury resort called Chintalah, which will open this year.

Meanwhile, a contractor has begun laying off people as the project slows down, due to the lack of approval for this year's budget by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the news agency reported.

The plan's overambitiousness clashes with the Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the Saudi economy.

One of Neom's projects is a green hydrogen plant, an eight-billion-dollar investment alongside solar and wind plants, part of the greedy kingdom's ambition to become one of the world's biggest producers of the fuel to reduce its reliance on petrodollars.

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