New aerial pictures show the staggering scale of the construction site in Saudi Arabia for the futuristic $1trillion city The Line. The new images reveal a vast chasm that was carved through the mountains in preparation for the 75-mile-long horizontal skyscraper mega-project. The Line, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will be part of the vast desert complex of Neom, which will also feature an artificial ski resort, an octagonal floating port city, a swimming lane for commuters and robots and AI to serve its future residents.
Giles Pendleton, COO of The Line, posted the aerial pictures ‘to answer the naysayers’ after previously showing insights from the massive construction site to prove ‘Neom is real’. Analysts noted previously that plans for NEOM have changed course over the years, fueling doubts about whether The Line will ever become reality.
Some images show straight lines stretching over several miles where The Line is supposed to be built, which will consist of two 1,600 feet tall buildings that run parallel to each other across 75 miles of desert, coastal, and mountain landscapes.
On others huge piles of sand can be seen everywhere, which the COO said were piled up to make space for the planned ‘Hidden Marina’. Mr Pendleton added that over 100 million cubic meters of sand have already been moved. Previous planning images revealed the plans for the futuristic interior inside Saudi Arabia ‘s proposed 75-mile mirror-encased skyscraper city.
Design plans for The Line showed the sci-fi inspired interiors, with angular glass structures contorting in different shapes over an artificial river. Trees climb up over the futuristic designs which are supposed to be fully powered by renewable energy in the sprawling tropical metropolis that looks like it could serve as a Star Wars set. Bin Salman said he wanted his country to house a construction project as iconic and timeless as the Pyramids of Egypt.
‘The Line is a project that is a civilizational revolution that puts humans first,’ he said at the time. Prince MBS has claimed he wants the Mirror Line to be ready by 2030, although engineers have said it could take 50 years to construct. The building is so long that it will sit on struts to take the curvature of the Earth into account, and will also have a high speed train line running underneath its length.
If fully completed, the skyscraper will run from the Gulf of Aqaba, through a mountain range, and then extend along the coast into a desert ‘aerotropolis,’ the Wall Street Journal reported. Salman also said that the project aimed to allow a million residents to meet within a five-minute walk and to travel end-to-end within a 20-minute stretch. The futuristic buildings feature a silver shine and an intricate inside, with stairwells and greenery and homes to create a linear community. It will also feature a marina for boats underneath the arch of the buildings.
The community of millions will also be fed through vertical farming that will be integrated into the walls of the shiny buildings and residents will reportedly pay a subscription for three meals a day. Prince MBS insists the buildings will be totally carbon neutral and good for the local environment. Desert living won’t just be hot, sticky, and sandy, but the Mirror Line will also feature a sports stadium that is set to be 1,000 feet above the ground.
Salman is also hoping the Neom, as a whole, will create thousands of new jobs and let the oil-rich country stop being so dependent on the resource for wealth, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, foreign investments in the Neom have not been so forthcoming as many Western countries continue to boycott the country over alleged human rights violations. Salman has been accused of ordering the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, but the Crown Prince has denied any involvement.
Others who have fewer political scruples have questioned whether the projects devised are just too ambitious. High oil prices are actually helping Salman continue forth with the Mirror Line and Neom, as it is providing funding for the expensive project, the Wall Street Journal said. However, Neom also faced human rights criticism when it was announced after tribes were forcibly removed from the area and security allegedly shot a resident dead.
The project’s completion date is set for 2030, but builders and urban planners are struggling to resolve many questions. The project was originally set to be completed in 50 years. This comes as bird experts warned that The Line will be a ‘deathtrap’ for millions of migrating birds. Conservationists have sounded the alarm over the vast project, saying it will be a deadly barrier for birds migrating between Europe and Africa each year.
Saudi Arabia has branded The Line a ‘civilization revolution’, but researchers have identified the project as one of the 15 most pressing conservation issues to watch in 2024. And experts have said in a study released last December that a combination of factors mean it poses a huge risk to birds that migrate over Saudi Arabia every year. These include the mirrored facades, the city’s orientation and the intention to have wind turbines along the top of it.
‘Birds flying into tall windows is a serious problem, and this is a building that is 500m high going across Saudi Arabia, with windmills on top,’ Professor William Sutherland, director of research in Cambridge University’s zoology department, told The Times . ‘It’s also kind of like a mirror so you don’t really see it,’ Sutherland, who led the study, added. ‘So unless they do something about it, there’s a serious risk that there could be lots of damage to migratory birds.’
Nightingales, wheatears, larks, sandgrouse and turtle doves are all species of bird that use the migratory route which could be affected. Other species known to travel that way include the Egyptian vulture and saker falcon, both of which are endangered globally, The Times reports. The publication said the area The Line is set to occupy is already a bottleneck for an estimated 2.1million birds that travel between Europe and Africa every autumn. It noted that every year, 988million birds are killed in collisions with buildings in the US alone, with the risk found to be higher in areas with glass or mirrored buildings.
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