The Line – A Car Free, Road Free City In Saudi Arabia

The Line - A Car Free, Road Free City In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman has announced his plans for a zero-carbon city called “The Line“. It will be built as a previously announced project NEOM. Let’s see how this vision will materialize in real life.

Crux of the Matter

What Are The Plans?
Construction of the 170 km long “The Linecity, which shall be part of a mega-project named “Neom”, will start this year, announced the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. 

Usage of Public Investment Fund
As per the Prince, the backbone of investment in “The Line” will come from the $500 billion support to NEOM by the Saudi government, Public Investment Fund, and local plus global investors, over a 10 year period.

What Is The Line?
As per various news sources, it is a walkable “belt of hyper-connected future communities, without cars and roads and built around nature.”

What’s More?

  • 380,000 jobs will be created and 1 million residents will inhabit the place by 2030.
  • The estimated to cost of the infrastructure $100-$200 billion.
  • The city would be built around “ultra-high-speed transit.”
  • It would have one of the “world’s largest airports.”

What About NEOM?
Neom is part of the Prince’s plan to diversify the economy of the world’s largest crude exporter hub i.e Saudi Arabia and make a place for new smart technologies, businesses and tourism.

Where Would NEOM Be Located?
It would be a 26,500 km², a cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea, and Strait of Tiran and the borders of Egypt, Israel and Jordan.

Controversy Around These Plans
The NEOM project has been facing opposition from residents, who will be forced to relocate during the construction period. Analysts are questioning whether an investment is needed in a place of already well-established business hubs like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar.

What Does The Prince Say?
Thinking about life after oil for his kingdom, the Prince said, “Why do we accept sacrificing nature for development?” citing the rising sea levels and carbon emissions, globally.

  • NEOM means “New Future“. The first three letters of NEOM (“NEO”) come from the Latin word for “New”; the final letter (“M”) is an abbreviation of the Arabic word “Mostaqbal” which means “Future”.
  • Lusail, the city set to host the FIFA World Cup final in 2022, doesn’t exist yet. It is planned to have marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, and a golf course community, man-made islands, and several entertainment districts. Construction is still ongoing.
  • The House of Saud is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, known as the First Saudi state, and his brothers, though the ruling faction of the family is primarily led by the descendants of Ibn Saud, the modern founder of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia To Boycott Goods From Turkey

Saudi Arabia To Boycott Goods From Turkey

As Saudi Arabia looks to boycott goods from Turkey, another strain has been added to the relations between the two, which date long back and have alternated over the course of history.

Crux of the Matter

Call For Boycott
Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce (CoC) recently called for a boycott of Turkish products. The CoC is a non-government group of prominent “business officials”.

While the Saudi Government has claimed that no restriction has been placed on Turkish goods, the CoC has officially announced the boycott.

A boycott of everything Turkish, be it imports, investment or tourism, is the responsibility of every Saudi ‘trader and consumer’.

Ajlan al-Ajlan, Head of Chambers of Commerce, Saudi Arabia

Reason For Boycott
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently took an indirect dig at Saudi Arabia. In his statement, Erdogan claimed that:

It should not be forgotten that the countries in question did not exist yesterday, and probably will not exist tomorrow. But we will continue to fly our flag in this geography forever with the permission of Allah.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Turkey

Saudi-Turkey History

  • 1818: Ottomans captured the first Saudi state, and Saudi King Abdullah bin Saud was beheaded outside the Hagia Sophia mosque.
  • Saudi was later ruled by the Rashidi dynasty which was backed by the Ottoman Empire (formed by Turkish tribes).
  • 1903: War erupted between the Saud and the Rashidi dynasties. Saudis won the war and gained the control of central al-Qassim region.
  • Britain backed Saudis during World War I, who then defeated the Ottomans.
  • 1932: The official Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed. In the same year, an official relationship was established between the two.
  • Turkey held better ties with the West than the Arabs and brought secular reforms. In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim majority country to have official relationships with Israel. Turkey also became part of NATO in 1951, becoming the only Middle East country to do so.
  • 1969: Relations improved after Turkey joined the Organization of Islamic States (OIC). However, they deteriorated soon as Saudi backed Syria in its conflict with Turkey in the 1980s.

Saudi-Turkey Ties In 21st Century

  • 2003: US invaded Iraq as part of “war on terror” following 9/11 attacks. As a consequence, Saudi and Turkey developed better ties in anticipation of growth of Iran, their mutual rival, in the region.
  • 2006: King Abdullah became the first Saudi leader to visit Turkey since 1966.
  • Relations weakened between the two as Mohamed Morsi became the President of Egypt in 2012. Morsi was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an Islamic group advocating a return to the way of life as prescribed in the Qur’an. Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood while Saudi Arabia opposed it.
  • Further deterioration as military coup occurred in Egypt in 2013. Turkey provided refuge to the Muslim Brotherhood members while Saudi provided funds to the military leaders.
  • 2014: Turkey failed to win a UN Security Council non-permanent seat, were Saudi voted against Turkey in the process.
    In the same year, a Civil war started in Libya, in which Saudi and Turkey again took opposing sides. Saudi backs the rebel Libyan National Army (LNA) while Turkey backs the UN-appointed Government of National Accord (GNA).
  • 2017: Saudi, UAE, etc cut ties with Qatar for its support of Iran and reported funding of terrorism. In reply, Turkey increased food supply and economic aid to Qatar in reportedly open defiance of Saudi Arabia.
  • March 2018: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with “Iran and extremist religious groups”.

Case Of Jamal Khashoggi

  • October 2018: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a critic of the Saudi Government was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
  • Tensions between the two increased as Turkish President Erdogan claimed that “the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government”. However, Erdogan absolved King Salman of Saudi from any responsibility.
  • June 2019: A report by UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard claimed that the Saudi Arabian state was responsible for the murder.
  • The Armenian Genocide was the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the Ottoman government between 1914 and 1923.
  • Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and surrounding regions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In what has been described as a cold war, the conflict is waged on multiple levels over geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence in pursuit of regional hegemony.
  • The Treaty of Zuhab was an accord signed between the Safavid Empire and the Ottoman Empire on May 17, 1639. The accord ended the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1623–1639 and was the last conflict in almost 150 years of intermittent wars between the two states.

History Of Saudi Arabia

History Of Saudi Arabia

With Saudi Arabia withdrawing its aid from Pakistan recently, let us look at the history of the former and its standing in the Arabian world.

Crux of the Matter

Why Are We Talking About Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia has become the talk of the town because it recently asked Pakistan to immediately repay $1 bn of its total $3 bn loan. Pakistan had to borrow $1 bn from China to repay. Saudi’s move comes amidst Pakistan attempting to call a meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the Kashmir issue, for which the Saudi did not openly back Pakistan. Pakistan accused Saudi of not “doing enough” regarding the Kashmir issue. In response, Saudi terminated the financial aid and the oil supply to Pakistan.

History Of Saudi Arabia

Early History

  • Islam was founded in the 7th century in Saudi Arabia.
  • Wahhabism, a conservative movement in the Sunni branch of Islam, was started in Arabia in 18th century.
  • A local Prince Muhammad ibn Saud in Arabia was inspired by the movement, and got several territories his rule afterwards.

19th Century Afterwards

  • 1818: Arabia fell under the control of the Ottoman empire.
  • Saud rulers were re-established later but Arabia continued under Ottoman and British rule.
  • A revolt was started against the Ottoman in the light of World War I, where Britain and Allied powers fought against the Ottoman.
  • In 1890, the Rashidi dynasty captured the Riyadh province and had the backing of the Ottoman empire.
  • A war erupted between the Saudi and the Rashidi dynasty in 1903, which ended in 1907 with the Saudi emerging victorious and gaining control of the al-Qassim region.
  • 1927: Abdulaziz al-Saud, or Ibn Saud, a descendant of the Saud family, became the King of Najd and Hejaz and ruled both as separate kingdoms.
  • Wahhabi followers accused Ibn Saud of betrayal due to his progressive policies. Ibn Saud led war against them, which was supported by the British.
  • 1932: The kingdoms of Najd and Hejaz were merged into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia (named after the Saud dynasty).
  • 1938: Oil was discovered in the country, and the production was initiated under the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).
  • 1948: Saudi Arabia attacked Israel due to its conflict with Palestine and relationship with the British.
  • 1960: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, and Kuwait.
  • 1973: The US supported Israel in its war with Syria and Egypt. In return, Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC nations banned the oil supply to the US.
  • 1979: The Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by extremists, which was regained by the Government in 10 days.
  • 1979: The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The US and Saudi Arabia supported Afghanistan through a movement known as ‘Mujahideen’. Several people from Saudi, including Osama bin Laden, went to join the movement.
  • 1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and the US defeated Iraq and liberated Kuwait.

Lead Up To 9/11

  • 1996: The Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia used by the US Air Force were attacked by terrorists, where 19 US Air Force members died.
  • 11 September 2001: Planes hijacked by al-Qaeda were crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people. The plan was organized by Osama bin Laden, who had been a part of the earlier Mujahideen.

2010 Onwards

  • 2011: Arab spring protests occurred across Arab countries regarding human rights and development. While the Shiite protests in the Eastern region were smothered, the country allowed women to vote and contest in the municipal elections for the first time.
  • 2018: Women were allowed to drive cars for the first time in the country’s history.
  • October 2018: Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Turkey at the Saudi embassy. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US claimed that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally “ordered the killing”.

What Is The Lawrence Of Arabia?
T E Lawrence was an archaeologist from Britain, who also volunteered in the army during the First World War. Later, he grew fond of Arabia after he was sent to the country by the British Army. Lawrence grew famous due to his help in the Arabian rebellion against the Ottoman empire. He went on missions with the troops in the country and demolished 79 bridges connecting Turkey to Arabia during the war.

The movie Lawrence of Arabia was made on the life of T E Lawrence. It was released in 1962 and won 7 Oscar awards in the 1963 Oscars.

  • Pan-Arabism is an ideology that espouses the unification of the countries of North Africa and Western Asia, which is referred to as the Arab world. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts the view that the Arabs constitute a single nation.
  • The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Al-Hilal is a monthly Egyptian cultural and literature magazine. It is among the oldest magazines dealing with arts in the Arab world. The magazine is 128 years old.

Saudi No More A Big Brother To Pakistan?

Saudi No More A Big Brother To Pakistan?

Saudi Arabia recently displayed hostility towards Pakistan by withdrawing its aid after the latter criticized it for its neutrality regarding certain issues. Let us take a look at the recent history between the two and what led to this move.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Animosity
Saudi Arabia recently asked Pakistan to immediately repay $1 billion of its total $3 billion loan, for which the latter had to borrow $1 billion from China, which otherwise it was unable to pay.

The loan is a part of a $6.2 billion financial package, which Saudi Arabia provided to Pakistan in 2018. $3 billion of the package was directly in loan to help Pakistan repay several of its loans, and this was to be paid in installments by 2021. The remaining $3.2 billion was in the form of “deferred” oil supply – Pakistan was supplied oil for which it had to pay later.

The current decision to withdraw the aid forced Pakistan to repay the loan immediately while its oil supply from Saudi Arabia has been terminated.

Why It Happened?
Pakistan has been attempting to call a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the Kashmir issue and has been hostile since India abrogated Article 370 from the Jammu & Kashmir state. Saudi Arabia did not openly back Pakistan in the conflict, while several nations of the OIC like the UAE, Oman, Maldives supported India by labeling Kashmir issue as an “internal matter” of India.

Pakistan recently claimed it will go ahead “with or without” Saudi Arabia and the OIC if they do not support it against India, and also claimed that Saudi Arabia is not “doing enough” regarding the Kashmir issue. In return, Saudi terminated the financial aid and the oil supply to Pakistan.

Recent Saudi-Pakistan Relations

  • 2018: Pakistan attended the Saudi summit even after several organizations and countries boycotted the event. The boycott occurred over the killing of a Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, who was reportedly killed by Saudi agents.
  • 2018: Saudi extended a $6.2 billion aid to Pakistan.
  • 2019: Pakistan PM Imran Khan himself drove Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from airport when he visited Pakistan. Prince Salman declared himself an “ambassador” of Pakistan in Saudi while returning the gratitude.
  • The House of Saud is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, known as the First Saudi State.
  • The Reko Diq mine is a large copper mine located in the south-west part of Pakistan in Balochistan province. Reko Diq represents one of the largest copper reserves in Pakistan and in the world. The mineral resource at Reko Diq is estimated at 5.9 billion tonnes with an average copper grade of 0.41% and an average gold grade of 0.22 g/tonne.
  • Najd is a geographical central region of Saudi Arabia that accounts for about a third of the population of the country. Najd consists of the modern administrative regions of Riyadh, Sudair, Al-Qassim, and Ha’il.

Saudi Arabia to handover foreign mosques to local authorities

According to a report, Former Saudi Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bin Abdul-Karim Issa on January 31 announced that Saudi will stop funding mosques in foreign countries.

Crux of the Matter

Saudi Arabia will establish local administrative councils for each mosque, in cooperation with the local authorities so that they can hand it over to them.

The minister said, “The time has come to hand over the Geneva Mosque to a Swiss administrative council that represents Muslims in the area. It should have an elected cleric.” Citing security reasons he also said that Saudi Arabia will take similar measures with all the mosques all over the world.


International propagation of Salafism and Wahhabism is estimated to have spent $75 billion in efforts to spread Wahhabi Islam only under the reign of King Fahd (1982 to 2005). The money was used to establish 200 Islamic colleges, 210 Islamic centers, 1,500 mosques, and 2,000 schools for Muslim children in Muslim and non-Muslim majority countries. The Saudi Arabian government funds a number of international organizations to spread fundamentalist Islam, including the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the International Islamic Relief Organization, and various royal charities. The funding has been criticized for promoting an intolerant, fanatical form of Islam that allegedly helped breed terrorism. More Info