Saudi Arabia “forced to scale back” plans for desert megacity
    End of Line?

    WORLD  13 April 2024 - 09:03

    The Guardian carries an article about Crown prince’s pet project which was sold as a 105-mile-long city of the future, but finances may have led to a rethink, Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    It was billed as a glass-walled city of the future, an ambitious centrepiece of the economic plan backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to transition Saudi Arabia away from oil dependency.

    Now, however, plans for the mirror-clad desert metropolis called the Line have been scaled down and the project, which was envisaged to stretch 105 miles (170km) is expected to reach just a mile and a half by 2030.

    Dreamed up as a linear city that would eventually be home to about nine million people on a footprint of just 13 square miles, the Line is part of a wider Neom project. Now at least one contractor has begun dismissing workers.

    The scaling down of Prince Mohammed’s most grandiose project was reported by Bloomberg, which said it had seen documents relating to the project.

    The project, which had been slated to cost $1.5 trillion (1.2 trillion pounds), was pitched as a reinvention of urban design. However, it has long attracted scepticism and criticism, not least after the reported execution of several members of the Howeitat tribe who had protested over plans to construct on their ancestral lands.

    Then there were reports of Prince Mohammed’s changing vision for the project, budget overspends and an ever-changing roster of key staff, with some who have worked on the project describing it as “untethered from reality”.

    According to Bloomberg, the scaling back of the Line comes as the overall Neom budget for 2024 has yet to be approved by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund amid declining cash reserves.

    Promotional presentations had suggested something out of a science fiction novel running inland into Tabuk province from the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba where it enters the Red Sea.

    A few hundred metres wide, the linear city had been sold as the future of accessible urban planning, with amenities for residents within close walking distance to accommodation and districts connected by one of the world’s fastest trains.

    Promotional material described the Line in almost mystical terms: a “cognitive city” and a “civilisation revolution” where amenities would be provided by artificial intelligence.

    Prince Mohammed, who has long been accused of involvement in the killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018, had described the city project as “tackling the challenges facing humanity in urban life today” to “shine a light on alternative ways to live”.

    Not everyone, however, has been convinced by the prince’s glossy prospectus. Writing in the New York Times in 2021 at the time Neom released a video describing the prospects of living between the city’s silvered walls, the US journalist and author Robert Worth said: “To watch the crown prince’s promotional video is to be immersed in a distinctively Saudi form of arrogance, blending religious triumphalism and royal grandiosity.”

    And hubris, too, apparently.

    Caliber.Az

    Subscribe to our Telegram channel


Read also

IRNA: Iranian president's helicopter makes hard landing on border with Azerbaijan

19 May 2024 - 17:25

France mobilises police to regain control of New Caledonia airport road

19 May 2024 - 16:49

Ukraine destroys another Russian ship

19 May 2024 - 18:01

India doubles purchase of Russian diamonds

19 May 2024 - 16:26

Coup d'état thwarted in Democratic Republic of Congo

19 May 2024 - 15:30

Slovak PM Fico no longer in immediate danger but condition serious, deputy says

19 May 2024 - 17:40
ADVERTS
Video
Latest news

    Techcraft on display in Ukraine

    Analysis by War on the Rocks

    19 May 2024 - 22:00

    Chinese state-backed company to launch space tourism flights by 2028

    19 May 2024 - 20:01

    Ukraine destroys another Russian ship

    19 May 2024 - 18:01

    Slovak PM Fico no longer in immediate danger but condition serious, deputy says

    19 May 2024 - 17:40

    IRNA: Iranian president's helicopter makes hard landing on border with Azerbaijan

    19 May 2024 - 17:25

    Russia's forces shot down 9 ATACMS missiles, 61 drones overnight

    19 May 2024 - 17:17

    France mobilises police to regain control of New Caledonia airport road

    19 May 2024 - 16:49

    India doubles purchase of Russian diamonds

    19 May 2024 - 16:26

    Venezuela approves investment agreement with Türkiye

    19 May 2024 - 15:58

    Coup d'état thwarted in Democratic Republic of Congo

    19 May 2024 - 15:30

    Biden, Trump accuse each other of threatening democracy

    19 May 2024 - 15:09

    "Iran, Azerbaijan show a very strong joint political will today"

    President Aliyev tells Raisi during meeting at the border/PHOTO

    19 May 2024 - 14:40

    Russian oil refinery suspends operations after drone falls on its site

    19 May 2024 - 14:14

    Iranian ambassador: New page opened in relations with Azerbaijan

    19 May 2024 - 13:52

    Erdogan commemorates 105th anniversary of Turkish freedom struggle

    Ataturk Memorial Day

    19 May 2024 - 13:29

    Giant meteor seen lighting up skies of Portugal

    19 May 2024 - 13:11

    Azerbaijan, Russia discuss enhanced economic, transport cooperation at KazanForum 2024

    PHOTO

    19 May 2024 - 12:51

    Latvian Parliament speaker arrives in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli

    PHOTO

    19 May 2024 - 12:35

    Construction of Turkish Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant nears completion, director says

    19 May 2024 - 12:21

    Israel, Hamas suspend prisoner swap talks

    19 May 2024 - 11:52

    German chancellor warns against full-scale ground operation in Rafah

    19 May 2024 - 11:23

    China uncovers "multiple espionage cases" in space sector

    19 May 2024 - 10:54

    Latvian Parliament speaker pays official visit to Azerbaijan

    19 May 2024 - 10:25

    President Aliyev inaugurates “Zangilan” and “Shayifli” hydroelectric power plants

    PHOTO

    19 May 2024 - 09:56

    President’s aide discusses Azerbaijani-American partnership at US Institute of Peace

    PHOTO

    19 May 2024 - 09:27

    Germany's Bundesrat passes gender self-identification law

    19 May 2024 - 09:00

    Poland to spend over 2.3 bln euros to fortify eastern border

    PM says

    19 May 2024 - 06:30

    Kim's sister denies North Korea has supplied weapons to Russia

    19 May 2024 - 04:23

    Iran hangs two women as surge in executions intensifies: NGO

    19 May 2024 - 02:20

    US Army’s multidomain task force contributing to AUKUS

    19 May 2024 - 00:15

    Slovakia at pivotal moment after Robert Fico shooting

    18 May 2024 - 22:10

    Russia admits it can’t halt nighttime uncrewed surface vessel raids

    18 May 2024 - 20:00

    Palestinian resistance eliminates 15 Israeli soldiers in Rafah

    18 May 2024 - 18:18

    Slovak PM’s attacker pleads guilty before court — media

    18 May 2024 - 18:08

    White House not thrilled by Macron’s D-Day invite to Russia

    18 May 2024 - 17:59

    Poland to begin construction of Eastern Shield

    18 May 2024 - 17:47

    Resistance destroys 100 Israeli vehicles in 10 days

    18 May 2024 - 17:32

    Hungarian FM calls for Azerbaijani delegation's return to PACE

    18 May 2024 - 17:17

    Ambrey says Panama-flagged oil tanker attacked southwest of Yemen's Mokha

    18 May 2024 - 17:02

    Pakistan, India issue warnings to students in Kyrgyzstan after mob violence

    18 May 2024 - 16:47

All news