he controversial, futuristic Saudi Arabian Line City project began a record-breaking construction only 20 months after it was announced and met with massive public opposition. Against all odds, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has set out to build his grand legacy, his bold version of the Great Pyramids, and his futuristic vision of an AI-controlled, self-sufficient megapolis in the desert.
And although experts and the public agree that the project is just not feasible, functional, and, above all, environmentally friendly, the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince is determined to make the desert habitable for future generations, whatever the cost in human and animal lives and long before the technology is even ready. In October 2022, drones revealed that excavation work had begun along the entire length of the Mirrored Line City, which begins at the Red Sea and stretches an incredible 170 km through the desert and mountains.
The self-sufficient AI city will house 9 million people in a vertical design to enjoy renewable energy and freedom from roads, cars, and emissions. The project is part of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to elevate Saudi Arabia to the world’s throne of innovative architecture and tourism in the hope of reshaping the Kingdom’s economy. The goal is to reach 100 million visitors per year by 2030, which would certainly bring billions to the country.
The Line City is only a part of Neom
Neom is a Saudi Arabian $1 trillion megaproject that aims to become the world’s first fully renewable megapolis. In addition to Line City, it also includes Neom Bay on the Red Sea, Neom Ski Mountain, Neom Industrial City, and the Aqaba region, all located in the northwestern Saudi Arabian province of Tabuk, south of Jordan and Israel and east of Egypt across the Strait of Tiran, covering an area of 26 500 km2, the size of Sicily.
Future residents and visitors will have the privilege to access everything by foot, ultra-fast subways, and flying cars while enjoying clean energy, dancing under the artificial moon, and communicating with robots. Neom is also to become a free trade zone with its own tax system and laws.
The first phase of the project should be completed already in 2030, while the entire Neom Wonderland could take up to 50 years. And no, there are no plans to lift the alcohol ban. However, despite all the innovation, modernity, and luxury, people are just not buying it. The Crown Prince’s impossible dream of building his own Great Pyramid of Giza is met with constant rejection, debate, and protests from all over the world.
And the fact that 20,000 people have to flee the diggers and be resettled doesn’t help matters, especially after the Saudi government forcibly evicted, arrested, and sentenced to death three members of the Huwaitat tribe to teach others a lesson in the hope that they will quietly go away.
What Can Go Wrong
In reality, according to experts, Neom City has a 20 percent chance of surviving in its original form because building it over a 50-year period will require maximum control and because it will face so many physical and environmental phenomena that there will simply be many delays and adjustments on the site, and in the end, if it ever comes to that, it will look nothing like the promotional videos.
Just thinking about the huge linear mirror structure in the desert, one has to wonder if Saudi Arabia is trying to get hit by a giant flying object that will melt the Line back to sand. Not to mention the innocent birds that fly into the mirror, become disoriented, and die, just like all the other desert animals that will suddenly get stuck on one side and perish. Think lizards, snakes, tortoises, hares, and cats.
All experts have warned that the line form will stop animal migrations, wipe out weaker species, limit genetic diversity and lead to inbreeding and thus genetic disorders. It would be much more environmentally friendly if they only used the coastline and did not cut through the mountains and desert, fragmenting wildlife to extinction.
And they must know that this huge wall mirror will reflect light and basically create two turbo-hot heat zones that will fry everything around it. So, there is no question that the mirror is lethal, they just don’t know to what extent or what to do about it.
The New Technology
Building two straight walls makes no sense in terms of diversity, wind pressure, and cold air infiltration, especially given the enormous height and strength the building needs to withstand the wind loads. And then there is the dangerous carbon footprint which is in fact not allowed anymore, but such a tall building cannot be built with low-carbon materials and requires a huge amount of steel, glass, and concrete.
Their top problem, however, is really the new technology, which is not yet up to the task. The biggest innovation is AI governance, which will take over tasks such as logistics, security, care, and home deliveries, using predictive and data models to improve the daily lives of residents, who will have to submit their data to the Line. Food will also be grown, prepared, and served by robots, and residents will have to pay a subscription fee to receive three meals a day.
There will be no cars, roads, or carbon emissions, only renewable, clean energy. However, all these technologies that Neom relies on are not yet fully developed. Not to mention that, although many people have mentioned it, who would want to live in such a closed, dense, sunless, fried, AI-controlled, dystopian environment?
Perhaps Line City will only serve as a trade zone because of its tax policy, which is possibly the most exciting thing about the whole project.
Writer and director who thinks different and does everything differently. Art enthusiast. Wandering and wondering. Until the end of meaning.