Saudi Arabia’s crazy straight-line city project hangs in limbo

Construction of megaprojects in Saudi Arabia is being delayed. Pharaonic ambitions may be scaled back, while its environmental ambitions remain debated

Line, led by the future megacity project President Mohammed Ben Salman Gets stuck. While the first tranche was to be distributed by 2024, Project is behind schedule According to the information given by Bloomberg. Of greater concern for the ambitions of the Crown Prince, who is also a director of the project’s parent company, Neom, medium-term prospects may be revised downwards.

According to a person close to the cited file by bloomberg Instead of the 1.5 million residents expected for 2030, officials now expect only 300,000 people by that date. Similarly of the 170 km of construction planned in the long term, only 2.4 km will be ready in 2030 according to the same source, meaning the project progress is less than 1.4%. According to the article, representatives of the project’s main financier, Neom, and the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) declined to comment.

pharaonic figures

The ambitions for a project are oriented downwards, with much ink flowing because of its pharaonic figures. The Line, like NEOM’s other projects, reflects Prince Mohammed Ben Salman’s desire to make Saudi Arabia a zone of urban innovation to absorb the expected growth in the country’s population. The project could exceed $500 billion.

The line should eventually be able to accommodate 9 million residents. Promising a “civilizational revolution”, “An unprecedented life experience”, as stated on the website dedicated to the project. Planned to expand horizontally, the city was to be 170 km long with a width of only 200 metres.

The idea is to rethink urban life in an area of ​​just 34 square kilometers to respond to the “crisis of habitability and environment”, presented by Rajkumar.

dystopian city building This will take the form of two parallel towers, all mirrors and transparency effects. The skyscrapers are expected to reach 500 meters above sea level, twice the height of the Montparnasse Tower, which stands at 210 metres. Images filmed by drone were presented during the international market for real estate professionals in Cannes in March.

Zero carbon footprint which is a matter of debate

At the heart of city design: zero carbon footprint. Urban sprawl will be limited to only 34 square kilometers in the middle of the desert. Adopting the concept of a quarter-hour city, an organization according to which all services (residences, parks, workplaces, health care) are accessible within a quarter-hour on foot, travel is limited as much as possible. In this type of project, there is no need for roads, and furthermore, cars will be banned from the line. If needed, it will be possible to connect one point of the city to another through express train in less than twenty minutes.

In terms of biodiversity, the roofs will be greened, and suspended vegetation can be seen from one building to another. The city will be powered entirely by renewable energy, wind farms and photovoltaic panels. The hydropower plant built by EDF must solve intermittent problems. Vertical farms can ensure food sufficiency in a metropolis.

Ultimately, human activities will be predicted and augmented by artificial intelligence, without any understanding of how this will take shape, nor to what extent the technology will intrude.

Even before the project came to fruition, environmental ambitions were already met with caution in a country that remains the world’s leading exporter of oil.

If the autonomous operation of the city can indeed significantly limit its emissions, its construction is not without consequences for the environment. University of New South Wales researcher Philip Oldfield, interviewed by France Info, estimates that the steel and concrete structure could emit “1.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, or four times the annual emissions of the United Kingdom”.

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