neom.com Somewhat out of the blue last week I was asked to do a short bit of media (1) on Saudi Arabia’s dramatic new release of some renderings for their proposed mega-city in the desert, The Line. In case you haven’t heard of this scheme, it is a plan, we are told, for an entirely new kind of city. As the name suggests, the shape of the city is a slender line that runs arrow-straight for 170 km. It is only 200 m wide and 500 m tall. For reference, the width of the line spans about the extent of two soccer fields placed end-to-end or about the same number of American football fields including end zones. For a height reference, think of the tallest buildings in Manhattan or any one of a number of tall towers in China – the Shanghai World Financial Centre, for instance. The proposal, if I understand the boilerplate correctly, is for that slender volume of space to house 9,000,000 people (yes, that is nine-million). Considering the ground plane only for a moment, the resultant people density comes out to about 720,000 people per square mile (2). Currently, the world city with the highest population density is Manila, which has about 107,000 people per square mile. So, The Line proposes a density almost seven times greater than this (3). Just to add to the overall wonder of the project, there is a plan for a high-speed transit line that promises to get people from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes. This may not be impossible to do, as current maglev trains in Japan, Korea, and China are capable of roughly comparable speeds (4) but I do wonder about the practicality of fitting the transportation needs of 9 million people into the train. The designers clearly plan for most people to stay put and to inhabit their own small segment of The Line. Indeed, a ban on cars means that each small segment will need to contain amenities to suit everyone’s needs.