Today’s news in slow English is all about the future of living, maybe not for us but for our children. It’s not the headline news in the UK, that’s all about inflation, cost of living, who will run our country, which is all a little boring. So I’ve chosen a news story, off the beaten path, and it’s packed with interesting English phrases and vocabulary that is fun and interesting to know. If you like books or films about science fiction, then you’ll like this.
So I’m back from France, it was lovely. The journey was horrible, with delays and lots of unforeseen problems, but it was worth it. I hope you found and listened to a podcast lesson from the many available. So let’s get started and keep on improving your English language skills.
The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today, and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.
⭐ Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman
I think most of us have a pretty clear idea of what home is and the type of building we will live in. For most of us, it will be a house or a flat in a block of flats in a village, town or city. This is the way it’s been since the beginning. So what would you think about an alternative way of people living together? I can’t even imagine something different. The thought is so alien to me. So the news article I’ve used as the basis of today’s English lesson is definitely interesting and definitely thought provoking.
Feasible Fiction Futuristic Dystopian Dehumanizing Envisaged Skyscraper Inhospitable
Hi there. Today let's talk about an article in the news, that's really interesting. It's not main news, but it represents an interesting idea and possibly a project for the future, a new way of living. How feasible it is, I don't know. And 'feasible' means 'possible, affordable'. So have you heard of a project called The Line?
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This is a mega building project, 170 kilometres long in Saudi Arabia. And it's been proposed as, part of their NEOM project. No, you haven't heard about it? Well, listen on to hear about a possible futuristic way of living. And of course you'll be practising your English vocabulary and your English fluency at the same time.
Have you ever watched one of those sci-fi movies, which shows a futuristic city as its backdrop, as its scenery. Usually these cities are walled, in a desert, lots of people live there and there's a lot of technology involved in people's lives. So ' sci-fi' if you don't know S C I hyphen F I. It's a type of film, it's a genre of film or book possibly. And it's short for 'science fiction'. And usually science fiction, it depicts scenes from an imagined future. What we imagine the future might look like. So, as I say, often these cities are walled cities, in a desert, and it's perhaps dangerous outside the city walls. And the implication is that in the future, we'll have ruined the climate and the planet and it will be desert out there and people can only live in contained cities with high walls.
A futuristic city? The adjective 'futuristic' is F U T U R I S T I C. And it means 'of the future'. Something like how we might imagine the year 2200 to look. Or even further ahead. And films that feature these types of futuristic cities? Ghost in the Shell. Or Blade Runner or The Fifth Element. You may have watched those films.
And often the word associated with these types of landscapes is 'dystopian', D Y S T O P I A N. 'Dystopian' is not a positive word. So it's probably not what the designers of the NEOM Project or The Line are hoping for, but that's the word associated with these landscapes in these futuristic sci-fi films.
And 'dystopian' means 'an imaginary future world where there's a lot of suffering and control'. The implication is that it's somewhat dehumanizing and that's often the theme in these movies.
So plans were revealed recently for a futuristic city called The Line, part of the Saudi Arabian NEOM project, that's N E O M. And these are mega building projects. The date for completion is envisaged way into the future. So the plan for the line is for a city built in a tall and narrow line, more than 105 miles long. It will have walls, mirrored walls on each side, and this city will stretch across the desert, from the Red Sea to a mountain range. As I say, it'll be enclosed on all sides by tall mirrored walls, or certainly mirrored on the outside. It's envisaged that upwards of 9 million people may live in The Line, may occupy this strange city. And according to the announcement made last week by the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the plan is for 'a one building city' - a novel idea.
So again, The Line is 105 miles long, but only 200 metres wide. Hence its name. This long narrow building will also be about 500 metres above sea level and will be a skyscraper. Although its shape won't be the traditional typical tall skyscraper that we are familiar with.
Just to clarify - the word 'skyscraper', S K Y S C R A P E R - that's a tall building. Imagine what you get in Manhattan. So a skyscraper 'scrapes the sky', it's so tall. The term 'land scraper' has also been used for this project because it's as though the skyscraper has been turned on its side, if you like.
So the exterior, the sides of this building will be closed in mirrored glass in an attempt to disguise it. I think the conditions outside the building will be so inhospitable, I'm not sure who's going to be there looking at it. And there might be quite a lot of glare from a mirrored building, one imagines in the desert!
The footprint of this 'one building city' will be approximately 34 kilometers square or 13 miles square. That's huge!
I'll tell you more about The Line in a minute. Just a reminder, first of all, that, if you feel the need to strengthen your basic English skills, your basic English vocabulary, then have a look at our Most Common 500 Words Course. It's our most popular course. And it's a Listen & Learn course as well.
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Back to our topic, this proposed futuristic city. So inside The Line, the internal layout, the idea is that you layer different functions of a city on top of one another.
Of course we're familiar with the idea of flats or apartments where people are stacked on top of one another, or office buildings are sometimes like this too. But here they're talking about layering public parks, gardens, schools, all sorts of functions. So all the usual buildings that you would have spread out across the landscape in a town are gonna be on top of one another.
So you would move up and down and along in order to access things. And the idea is that everything that a person might need in the course of their life will be within a five minute walk. The idea is - it's quite a green city. We're not getting in our cars to go places and producing carbon. There will be no cars in this city.
Instead, there will be a high speed rail link, which travels the length of 'The Line' and connects all parts of it.
So if you do want to go somewhere, that's not within five minutes walk of where you live, you would get on a high speed rail link, an electric train, which of course will be carbon neutral. And actually it's envisaged that the whole city will run on 100% renewable energy and be carbon neutral,. 'Renewable energy'? So R E N E W A B L E. That means that you create the energy that you use. So actually in some ways, this concept, this idea for this city is very green. Given that this structure, this building will be sitting in a desert where there's sunshine all year round and plenty of space on the outside of the building for solar panels, it sounds a viable proposition.
What is the motivation for this plan? Well, it's been proposed by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who is very aware of his country's dependency on oil. And fossil fuels. And he would like to attract tourism to Saudi Arabia as a supplementary income, revenue.
So 'The Line', as I said, is part of a project called NEOM or Vision 2030 and Saudi Arabia is hoping to rival Dubai as a tourism hotspot, tourism destination. They hope to attract 100 million visitors annually. That's a lot! That will be a boost to anybody's economy. The building will be open at the top so that the desert sunshine can come in and it's planned that the buildings either side will have balconies with plants growing on them and trees growing in the bottom, trees and grass. So there'll be parks and gardens.
There'll also be apparently, 'robot maids' that will come and do the cleaning of homes and offices. So no one who lives there will have to do cleaning. That's quite a futuristic idea. Isn't it? This is what the Crown Prince had to say about the project:-
"The designs will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability."
Digital art of futuristic house cleaning. A mega project plans to build an integrated city in the desert. A project director said the ultra modern city will attract tourists from all over the world.
That's a new word. L I V A B I L I T Y. 'Livability' sounds like that's straight from the mouths of the marketing people. The Crown Prince went on:-
"The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today, and will shine a light on alternative ways to live."
So this project is due for completion in 2030, though I imagine that that's rather ambitious. Apparently the Saudi government has set aside 500 billion dollars for the project.
However, skeptics wonder whether it will ever be built, whether it will ever be made reality. Just imagine too the amount of concrete you're going to have to pour, just to lay the foundations for such a building. They may be proposing an alternative method of construction, but it didn't say that. So the project may not be very green at its inception, but some of the ideas are interesting. I particularly like the idea that it's all running on renewable energy.
But personally I do have some reservations about this. I feel as though living in this sort of 'closed-in' world might be quite claustrophobic, might induce a fear of small spaces. I'm conditioned to look out of the window and see a view. I like a normal world with access to the outdoors, outside space. I can go for a walk when I want to. Even in the crowded South East of England, from my house it's possible to walk on the common land and not to meet another person for several miles - if you go at the right time. I rather like that! And I'm not sure I would be able to adjust to a world, a living arrangement in which this sort of thing was not possible.
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I guess people adjust, but I can't help feeling that this whole project might create a space and a living environment, which feels claustrophobic.
Let us know what you think. I'm interested to hear from anyone who knows more about 'The Line', this project. And otherwise use this podcast to work on your English language fluency. Listen to it several times until you understand all the words and you remember them. There's some useful vocabulary on sizes and dimensions in this one!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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