It is no secret that modern times, even before 2020, have been extremely distressing. According to The American Institute of Stress, approximately three-quarters of people experience stress that affects their physical or mental health. Ongoing challenges faced by people around the world every day, from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to political instability and challenges in the workplace, put the efficiency of our liveability, health, and well-being to the test. Even our global economic capacities are taking a toll; depression and anxiety are currently costing the global economy approximately $1 trillion in lost productivity.
It is going to take creative ideas, new strategies, and innovative solutions to confront the ongoing mental health crisis we face across the globe. That challenge has been part of the impetus for the creation of THE LINE, a recently announced series of futuristic communities being developed in NEOM – a region in northwest Saudi Arabia. THE LINE is grounded in ensuring high-quality liveability standards that are centred around the health and well-being of its residents.
At a time when climate change implications, food security uncertainties, health threats, and quality of life concerns are topping the agendas of all global discussions, THE LINE comes up with a practical design that puts people, nature, and community at its core. Its design is based on the integrated use of clean energy resources, the merging with nature in the essence of its design, the production of sustainable food resources, and the development of a comprehensive, smart, human, and environmentally-friendly system that will ensure prosperous and inspiring livelihoods.
THE LINE heralds the future of cities by offering its inhabitants an exceptional lifestyle set against a backdrop of a community founded on modern architecture, lush green spaces, quality of life, safety, advanced health and wellness, and technology paired with excellent economic opportunities.
THE LINE will offer its residents convenient accessibility enabled by state-of-the-art urban design principles to bring to life future-proof infrastructure. Public services will be fully automated to help provide efficient services for its residents and businesses. All aspects will ease the lives of residents, significantly reducing undue stress that can lead to health complications.
THE LINE’s pedestrian-first design places those activities most important to society within walking distance. Studies show that physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover. Each neighbourhood’s amenities – from schools to medical facilities – will be within a five-minute walk, encouraging physical activity and making lifestyle, health, and well-being the number one priority.
In addition to its walkability, THE LINE will protect the region’s stunning landscapes, integrating nature into the heart of its communities, creating unmatched lifestyle and well-being. A growing body of research has found that time in nature improves well-being, and economic resilience depends fundamentally on protecting nature as a source of capital. In line with this philosophy, 95% of NEOM’s land is being preserved as nature reserves. In areas that are being developed for human habitation, residents will be inspired to enjoy and revere nature – green spaces will be easily accessible and integral to daily life.
As THE LINE develops, one of its key economic sectors that will help shape the future of Saudi Arabia, the region, and the world, is the health, well-being, and biotech sector.
THE LINE’s healthcare ecosystem will be centred on the individual and guided by high-end integrated technologies to provide a comprehensive experience at each point of care. THE LINE will encourage a fundamental shift toward a culture of proactive self-care and preventative medicine, with primary care as needed, all powered by the latest technologies. Biotechnology will be an essential part of health and well-being as it will enhance THE LINE’s personalised journey of care.
Altogether, THE LINE will act as a living laboratory where innovators can experiment, create new technologies and bring to life the most exciting ideas in health and beyond, to inspire progress in cities worldwide. Without a doubt, its pioneering ideas and innovations will bring benefits to us all.
Dr Judtih Swain is a professor of Medicine at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.