Neom: Saudi Arabia seems to have concretized its futuristic city project

Neom: Saudi Arabia seems to have concretized its futuristic city project

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The Line, Oxagon and Trojena are the names of the three areas that will make up Neom, the futuristic megalopolis that Saudi Arabia wants to develop. On the agenda: wireless high-speed Internet access, flying taxis, holograms, home robots, a facial recognition system and… a winter sports center. If this very controversial project has long remained a utopian delirium, it seems that it is starting to come true.

Neom fits directly into Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan, presented in 2016. The plan, estimated at several hundred billion dollars, includes regulatory, budgetary and policy changes aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on oil. The concept? A futuristic-looking megalopolis extending into Tabuk province, in northwestern Saudi Arabia, in the middle of the desert. At the heart of this project is The Line, which, as its name suggests, will take the form of a high line covered in mirrors, 170 kilometers long and 500 meters high.

Neom is also expected to integrate a large “zero carbon” industrial complex called Oxagon, built on water and powered entirely by clean energy. ” In the future, Oxagon will help redefine the global approach to industrial development, protecting the environment while creating jobs and growth », Mohammad bin Salman said, Crown Prince and Chairman of Neom Co. The last link in the project: Trojena, a mountainous sector of the megapolis that will offer year-round slopes and an artificial freshwater lake. Although many economists and architects question the feasibility of the project, excavation work for The Line began this month…

“Environmental Disaster”

Images taken by a drone OT Sky confirms that construction has indeed begun. This city, which seems to have fallen out of a science fiction movie, will consist of two parallel skyscrapers 500 meters high, stretching from the coast to the mountains for 170 kilometers. This linear city will be about 200 meters wide; it could hold up to 9 million people, equivalent to the population of New York City. ” The line will use 100% renewable energy and 95% of the land will be preserved for nature “, notification official website of the project.

Map of the NEOM project. © Peterhermesfurian/iStock/Getty Images

The goal of the concept is the vertical arrangement of all city services; residents will be able to navigate from bottom to top or cross the line. There will be no roads or cars: the project envisages travel only by flying taxis, as well as a high-speed train that will connect both ends of the line in about twenty minutes. Neom will host an airport, seaport, industrial centers, research, sports and training facilities.

The other two areas are as well announced on the project website : Oxagon, presented as a “gateway to advanced and clean industry”, which will become the largest floating industrial complex in the world; Trojena, a type of recreation center approx. 60 km2which will offer year-round slopes — even though Saudi Arabia is not officially on the list of 86 countries where it’s possible to ski outdoors — mountain bike trails, water sports, wellness and an interactive nature reserve.

Trojena is due to be completed as early as 2026: indeed, it was recently chosen to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games – a decision that has sparked widespread outrage in light of current climate change. ” These kinds of decisions only seriously threaten our ability to have a habitable planet and therefore be able to play sports. It’s counterproductive. It is a disaster for the environment and for the values ​​of sport », said Mael Bessonspecialist in the ecological transition of sport, former head of the WWF and former head of the “sustainable development and ecological transition” mission at the Ministry of Sport.

Death penalty for opponents of the project

The project not only causes major environmental problems, but violates human rights: three members of the Howeitat community were recently sentenced to death by the Saudi courts for opposing the expulsion of their tribe from Tabuk province, where the future city is to be built. The brother of one of the convicts was shot dead by security forces in April 2020 because he too opposed the displacement of local tribes and refused to leave his house. Last August, the two Howeits were arrested and each sentenced to 50 years in prison.

These shocking verdicts once again show the Saudi authorities’ callous disregard for human rights and the cruel measures they are prepared to take to punish members of the Howeitat tribe for legitimately protesting the forcible eviction of their homes. The Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ALQST) said this in a statement. About 20,000 Bedouin have reportedly already been forced to leave the territory, and deportation measures have been tightened since the end of 2021.

At the same time, the country is sending out tempting offers to attract Western executives in sectors such as tourism, technology and entertainment. The country has invested heavily in metaversion and artificial intelligence, so anyone can virtually visit Neom before investing in the city. According to the magazine LuckSaudi Arabia is reportedly offering $1 million in salaries to company executives who agree to coordinate work on the project.

In addition to sophisticated technology, the city has great advantages: it is located on the coast of the Red Sea, through which almost 13% of the world’s trade passes, and 40% of the world’s population is less than a six-hour flight away. .. “ I believe that this project is unprecedented and will lead to innovations and technologies that we have never seen before. », he told CNBC Catherine Granger, CEO of Trajan Consulting, who worked closely with Neo. A new technological era for some, an ecological and human disaster for others, the Neom project is probably not over for people to talk about.

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