How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia

Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for The Line development at NEOM on July 25. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The Line will stretch 170 km across northwestern Saudi Arabia. Once completed, the world’s largest structure will accommodate 9 million residents using a cutting-edge vertical design. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The idea of layering city functions vertically is a concept referred to as “Zero Gravity Urbanism.” (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The Line designs embody how urban communities might look in the future in an environment free of roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied)
Special How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
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The idea of layering city functions vertically is a concept referred to as “Zero Gravity Urbanism.” (Supplied)
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Updated 26 July 2022

How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia

How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the development will shine a light on alternative ways to live
  • Narrow design intended to reduce man-made footprint on landscape, promote greater efficiency

RIYADH: With some 56 percent of the world’s population now living in cities, urban sustainability and public well-being have become a growing concern for governments worldwide.

To address these challenges, Saudi Arabia is boldly experimenting with how urban spaces are designed with its revolutionary NEOM smart city and its flagship development — The Line.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for The Line — one of several mega-projects now underway as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform and economic diversification plan.

He said that the design would clarify the internal structure of the multi-layered city and address the problems of traditional flat horizontal cities, achieving harmony between urban development and the preservation of nature, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision of the city that redefines the concept of urban development, and what cities of the future should look like, in January 2021.

During Monday’s announcement, the crown prince said that The Line would achieve “ideal living” and address the urgent challenges facing humanity.




The Line designs embody how urban communities might look in the future in an environment free of roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied) 

“NEOM is one of the most important projects of the Saudi Vision 2030 and The Line is an affirmation of our firm commitment to presenting a project to the whole world. NEOM is a place for those who dream of a better tomorrow,” he said.

The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will live in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions, he added.

The crown prince said that the project, which offers a new approach to urban design, would run on 100 percent renewable energy and prioritize people’s health.




Different from tall buildings, the concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work. (Supplied)

“The idea of layering city functions vertically and giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions to access them is a concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism,” he said.

According to the design plan revealed on Monday, The Line will have an outer mirror facade that will provide the structure its unique character and allow even its small footprint to blend with nature, while its interior will be built to create “extraordinary experiences and magical moments,” the crown prince added.

The Line will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometers, which is unheard of when compared to other cities of similar capacity, according to Monday’s statement.




The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will live in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions. (Supplied)

Different from tall buildings, the concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work.

The narrow design is intended to reduce the man-made footprint on the landscape and promote greater efficiency. The city will feature a high-speed rail link with an end-to-end transit time of just 20 minutes.

The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. Residents will also have access to all facilities in The Line within a five-minute walk.

“The Line will be created by a team of world-renowned architects and engineers, led by NEOM, to develop this revolutionary concept for the city of the future,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Furthermore, the city’s design will be completely digitized, and the construction industrialized to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes.




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

The design has already enjoyed good reception for its boldness and ambition. According to Mohamed Ramady, a London-based economist, the vision for The Line is nothing short of revolutionary, despite some skepticism from traditional urban developers.

“The concept of Zero Gravity Urbanism will be something that future generations will come to accept as a viable mode of urban, renewable energy-based community living comparable to epoch-making urban developments in history that were also not easily accepted,” Ramady told Arab News.

“The crown prince’s bold proposals aptly underscores what NEOM is all about, that all of humanity, not only Saudi Arabia, will benefit from.”

For Mohammed Al-Suwayed, CEO of Razeen Capital, the appeal of NEOM is in its youthfulness and willingness to break with old ways of building as well as living.

“I’m still not sure the world is getting the crown prince’s message from NEOM,” Al-Suwayed told Arab News.

“It is an idea that is meant to challenge the norms. I believe NEOM is not for the ones with traditional skills and experience. It is for young people with limited traditional experience but who are ambitious and visionary, and pragmatic at the same time.”

Situated in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea, spanning an area of around 26,500 square kilometers, and made up of 41 coastal islands, NEOM — which means “new future” — is billed as a living laboratory for entrepreneurship, new technologies, new models for livability, and environmental conservation.

With backing from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, as well as local and international investors, planners say the $500 billion NEOM project will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues and tourist destinations.

Its location means it is ideally situated to attract global investment by taking advantage of existing commercial routes. Around 13 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Red Sea, and some 40 percent of the world is less than six hours away by air.

The unique geographical location of NEOM ensures a temperate climate, roughly 10 degrees Celsius cooler on average than the rest of the GCC, cradled in a mountainous region that is home to some of the Kingdom’s most diverse terrain.

With sustainability at the core of the project, some 95 percent of NEOM’s land is conserved for environmental protection. All energy in NEOM will be 100 percent renewable — from solar, wind and hydrogen-based power generation — ensuring clean and pollution-free urban environments.

Communities will be built around people, not cars, with raised walkways connecting the site. Roads and streets will be replaced by piazzas and walkable boulevards filled with parks and green spaces. Communities empowered by artificial intelligence will learn and predict ways to make life easier to save time for residents and businesses.

The Line itself will connect four distinctive ecologies: coast, desert, mountains, and upper valley. Nature will be integrated into the heart of the communities, enhancing livability and well-being. It will also be supported by agricultural areas, supporting locally grown and sustainable food production.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision with a view to redefine the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

“At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” he said on Monday.

“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.

“The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”




The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. (Supplied)

The crown prince added: “We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues. NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upward a reality.”

The announcement of The Line’s designs is a continuation of NEOM’s progress in the development of its flagship projects, such as Oxagon, its reimagined manufacturing and innovation city, and Trojena, its mountain tourism destination that will offer the Arabian Gulf’s first outdoor skiing resort.

Covering an area of roughly 48 square kilometers, Oxagon will feature the world’s largest floating platform and will be powered using 100 percent clean energy. 

 

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Deloitte CEO Mutasem Dajani highlights emerging technology assisting Kingdom’s sustainability efforts

Deloitte CEO Mutasem Dajani highlights emerging technology assisting Kingdom’s sustainability efforts
Updated 06 February 2023

Deloitte CEO Mutasem Dajani highlights emerging technology assisting Kingdom’s sustainability efforts

Deloitte CEO Mutasem Dajani highlights emerging technology assisting Kingdom’s sustainability efforts
  • Collaboration with giga-projects in Saudi Arabia
  • GreenLight is firm’s decarbonization initiative

RIYADH: Deloitte is participating for the first time as a designated innovation and emerging technology partner at LEAP 2023, and has highlighted an initiative that is assisting the Kingdom’s firms and projects with their sustainability efforts.

The second edition of the event, being held from Feb. 6-9, hosts more than 700 leaders in technology and investment from 50 countries.

During the event, Deloitte’s CEO Mutasem Dajani, told Arab News that one of the tools on display at their booth is “GreenLight, which enables organizations to figure out decarbonization, regardless of where they are on the sustainability spectrum.”

“We are working with the leading project owners and developers in terms of the transformation that’s going on across the giga-projects in the Kingdom. And we’re really proud of that work that we’re doing,” he added.

“We feel it’s not only transforming the society and the communities, but also people’s individual career prospects through the work experiences that we offer.”

Visitors can also learn about drone- and robot-hacking.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with MOZN, a technology company that has created AI solutions for fighting financial crime and bolstering the financial services industry in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East, said Dajani.

MOZN announced earlier that it is participating as a Bronze Sponsor in the conference. They are showcasing their myriad AI-powered offerings, including financial intelligence products and solutions to address compliance, natural-language understanding and risk challenges for organizations in various industries.

In a comment earlier, Dr. Mohammed Alhussein, founder and CEO of MOZN, said: “We are thrilled to return to LEAP 2023 and demonstrate our innovative AI-powered products and solutions to a global audience of disruptive tech professionals.”

Dajani said he was proud of the “leap of faith that the Kingdom has taken in terms of positioning itself around technology in … the new digital economy in the Middle East and Africa.”

Deloitte has hired over 3,000 professionals across the region in 18 months to respond to growing market demand.

Some of Deloitte’s speakers during LEAP include Dr. Amira Khattab, a partner for cyber and strategic risk, Saudamini Dubey, lead partner for digital transformation, and Costi Perricos, the firm’s global AI leader.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 February 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia
  • Partnership with Portuguese legend Rui Costa is the world’s first indoor football measurements, performance and training park
  • Footlab has signed an agreement with Kingdom’s Confrontation Entertainment company

Saudi entertainment company Confrontation Entertainment has signed an exclusive franchise agreement with Footlab, a partnership by Cristiano Ronaldo and Rui Costa.

Footlab, a cooperation between the Portuguese football legends through Ronaldo’s tech company 7EGEND, started from an idea to bring to life a blend of e-gaming, real-life football and technology. It is headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, and opened in 2018.

At the platform, players can train, compete and keep track of their real-time performance data within different stations in the park, which are all connected in a digital ecosystem.

Footlab was designed with the next generation of football players in mind, providing players and trainers with the tools they need to measure and track performance in real time and use that information to create personalized development.

The technology behind it was developed in-house by Sports Scientists, a team of software and hardware engineers, UX designers, AI and data experts, to deliver the world’s leading football data-driven experience.

Luis Parafita, Footlab world CEO, expressed his gratitude for entering the Saudi market through this agreement. “Sports is an integral component of Saudi Arabia’s transformative Vision 2030, and we are thankful for the unconditional support of our partners and the perfect timing to launch Footlab in all (of the) Kingdom, having Cristiano here and world attention for what lies ahead.”

“Footlab aspires to change the game in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he pointed out, “with elite facilities and coaching staff dedicated to the analysis and development of players, empowering teams and groups of friends with challenges, to test and improve their cognitive, physical and technical skills.”

Ahmed Madani, Confrontation Entertainment CEO, said the growth of the sports and entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia made this an ideal time to introduce innovative projects such as Footlab in the market.

He said this partnership was aligned with the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 realization projects “which encourages the private sector to contribute to the development of the entertainment and sports sector, by offering an abundance of new experiences that contribute to raising the quality of life.”


Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 
Updated 06 February 2023

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 
  • Second edition of the event, being held over Feb. 6-9, to have more than 700 leaders in technology and tech investment in attendance
  • LEAP’s inaugural conference broke the record for largest tech event ever held, with this year looking to be even larger

RIYADH: More than 700 leading experts in technology investment from 50 countries are set to speak during the second edition of the LEAP technology conference, which will take place at Riyadh Front Expo Center from Monday to Thursday.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, and UAE-based IT services and consulting firm Tahaluf.

It aims to spark discussions on artificial intelligence, the digital transformation and advancements in the field of technical and innovative entrepreneurship through immersive learning, storytelling sessions and lectures.

LEAP will shed light on artificial intelligence, digital transformation and advances in the field of technical and innovative entrepreneurship. (Supplied)

“The first edition of LEAP was surprisingly more than I expected from a debut event. I am excited to see how this edition will make an even greater impact on our industry and the creative economy,” Sujoy Cherian, group CEO of Option 1 Events, an event technology and content company, told Arab News.

“Besides speaking on the panel for future live events, I am honored with the opportunity for a solo session to share my insight on some of the latest in tech for hybrid events and content creation,” he added.

Cherian, a creative technologist and serial entrepreneur, is just one of the hundreds of speakers from more than 400 global and local technology companies speaking at the event.

HIGHLIGHTS

Executives from Saudi Aramco, NEOM, Microsoft, Oracle, Huawei, Zoom, Ericsson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are among the roster of speakers.

International tech figures include G.V. Ravishankar, managing partner of Sequoia Capital India; Tim Ringel, an investor and advisory board member at Adit Ventures; and William Bao Bean, general partner of venture capital firm SOSV.

Former world boxing champion Anthony Joshua, astronaut Susan Kilrain and West Ham United Football Club vice-chairman Karren Brady to also speak at LEAP.

Executives from leading firms such as Saudi Aramco, NEOM, Microsoft, Oracle, Huawei, Zoom, Ericsson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are set to deliver speeches during the conference.

Some of the world’s leading tech figures will take to the Investor Stage, including G.V. Ravishankar, the managing partner of Sequoia Capital India, Tim Ringel, an investor and advisory board member at Adit Ventures, and William Bao Bean, general partner of venture capital firm SOSV.

The tech conference will be held in Riyadh. (Supplied/LEAP)

Former world boxing champion Anthony Joshua, astronaut Susan Kilrain and West Ham United Football Club vice-chairman Karren Brady will also speak at the conference.

Some of the talks set to take place at LEAP will shed light on the creative economy, education, retail, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, future energy, smart cities, and health tech.

One of the companies that will discuss the creative economy during one of the many orbital talks is Sparkup, a real-time engagement platform for live streams and hybrid events. “Our experience combines virtual audience technology and interactive live streaming to offer attendees a front-row seat on an event and allow them to react in real-time,” Vincent Bruneau, founder and CEO of Sparkup, told Arab News.

The company is working toward scaling and integrating its real-time engagement platform, bringing the concept into different environments. “It’s quite exciting because virtual and hybrid events are becoming very popular, people are now used to it and it forces you to innovate, to level up your game and imagine what should the next experience be like,” Bruneau said.

The investors’ platform is expected to witness multiple investment deals with global tech industries.

 


The changing landscape of the Saudi design industry

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2023

The changing landscape of the Saudi design industry

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
  • Designathon competition encourages designers to consider modern challenges

RIYADH: The first Designathon competition was recently held in Riyadh, gathering 500 designers and specialists to solve key issues facing the design industry, including social impact, health and sustainability.

Organized by the Architecture and Design Commission on Feb. 2-3, it brought together local creators to compete for awards collectively worth more than SR500,000 ($133,000).

Sumayah Al-Solaiman, CEO of the commission, said: “It is the designer’s role to really advocate for not just themselves but also society and the planet. We made sure that we have that responsibility reflected within the three tracks.”

CEO of the Architecture and Design Commission, Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman, at the opening remarks of Desginathon's first edition launch in Riyadh. The competition brings together 500 global participants in search of solutions to wellbeing, social impact, and sustainability design challenges from Feb. 2-4. (Supplied)

Coming in first place in the wellness track was team “Sabeel,” followed by team “Mumtir” in second place, and team “Khutwah bi Khutwah” in third.

The sustainability design track’s winning teams were “Wasm” in first place, “Table Mo1” in second place, and team “Waste No More” in third place.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Coming in first place in the wellness track was team ‘Sabeel,’ followed by team ‘Mumtir’ in second place, and team ‘Khutwah bi Khutwah’ in third.

• The sustainability design track’s winning teams were ‘Wasm’ in first place, ‘Table Mo1’ in second place, and team ‘Waste No More’ in third place.

• Finally, the social impact track awarded first place to team ‘Dreams,’ second to ‘Rans Team,’ and the third winning spot to ‘Hayyak.’

Finally, the social impact track awarded first place to team “Dreams,” second to “Rans Team,” and the third winning spot to “Hayyak.”

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to consider real-life modern design challenges that truly impact community members, create awareness around participatory design concepts, and highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. Participatory design is a cooperative method that looks at solutions that involve all stakeholders, with a focus on the procedure of design rather than the style itself.

“This time, we will be learning from everything that happens. We want to use that design methodology and hear from all the participants (regarding) their experience…and how we can improve it for next editions,” Al-Solaiman explained.

One of the participants, Huda Al-Qahtani, is a senior architecture student at Prince Sultan University who is interested in the art behind design and its role in enhancing the microclimate.

“I actually was interested in the well-being track and the social impact track. For well-being here in Saudi specifically, we don’t have any chances for walkability or cycling. It’s very hard, whether you’re considering the width of the streets or the climate,” she told Arab News.

Al-Qahtani expressed her excitement at the new initiatives that cater to the growth of the local design scene. “I feel very proud. Now I’m seeing more opportunities in Saudi than...abroad,” she said. “It’s (expanding) very fast, which makes me relieved…Even the architecture here in Saudi is gaining its identity back.”

Raghad Fathaddin, one of the sustainability track mentors, told Arab News: “What (the Designathon) is telling us all as citizens of this nation is that there (are) new ways of thinking, and that’s what we’re calling upon in order to achieve the Saudi Vision 2030 and sustainable development goals.

“I’m very impressed by the ideas I’m hearing…Our nation shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m excited for our future.”

Al-Solaiman noted the possibility of expanding on the three tracks in the future, increasing the number of participants, or even venturing into a different city.

The Designathon is one of 33 initiatives undertaken by the commission, most of which look at enhancing education and job opportunities, incentivizing the design sector, highlighting the economic value of design and content development, and fostering community engagement and support.

 


Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat
Updated 05 February 2023

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat
  • Prince Faisal travels to Oman after talks in Kuwait

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Muscat on Sunday.

He was met at Muscat International Airport by his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi, and the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Oman Abdullah Al-Enaz.

Earlier on Sunday, Prince Faisal met Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at Bayan Palace in Kuwait City.