Saudi prince unveils mirrored skyscraper eco-city
A futuristic Saudi megacity is to feature two skyscrapers extending across a swathe of desert and mountain terrain, according to the latest disclosures on the project by the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
The parallel structures of mirror-encased skyscrapers extending over 170 kilometers, known collectively as The Line, form the heart of the Red Sea megacity NEOM, a plank of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bid to diversify the Gulf state’s oil-dependent economy.
First announced in 2017, NEOM has consistently raised eyebrows for proposed flourishes like flying taxis and robot maids, even as architects and economists have questioned its feasibility.
In a presentation this week, Prince Mohammed sketched out an even more ambitious vision, describing a car-free utopia that would become the planet’s most livable city “by far.”
Analysts noted, though, that plans for NEOM have changed course over the years, fueling doubts about whether The Line will ever become reality.
NEOM was once touted as a regional “Silicon Valley,” a biotech and digital hub spread over 26,500 square kilometers.
Now it’s a vehicle for reimagining urban life on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers, and addressing what Prince
Mohammed describes as “livability and environmental crises.”
“The concept has morphed so much from its early conception that it’s sometimes hard to determine its direction: scaling down, scaling up, or making an aggressive turn sideways,” said Robert Mogielnicki of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
Officials had earlier said NEOM’s population would top 1 million, but Prince Mohammed said the number would actually hit 1.2 million by 2030 before climbing to nine million by 2045.