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How do the Saudis plan to build a 75-mile-long skyscraper complex in the desert?

The Gulf State will need extra funds for the project but may find that Western powers are reluctant to offer support until human rights issues are resolved.

Saudis plan a 75-mile skyscraper complex in the desert

Saudi Arabia is planning to construct a massive desert skyscraper complex which will reportedly cost up to $1 trillion and could house up to five million people.

The astonishing proposal is named Mirror Line and it will form the centre of a futuristic metropolis called Neom. The Mirror Line is essentially an elongated skyscraper that will span around 75 miles of desert, comprised of two buildings that tower 490 metres into the sky. There are only 12 buildings in the world that exceed that height currently.

The desert skyscraper will cut through mountains and desert and reach the Saudi Arabia coastline on the Red Sea. The huge structure will be connected by a high-speed train network running the length of the building, much of which will be underground. The outer walls of the huge project will be covered in mirrored surfaces, hence the name, which will help deflect light and heat from the city.

A press release from the Saudi state claims that the Mirror Line “will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”

How will the Mirror Line skyscraper city be built?

The project is the brainchild of de facto Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who reportedly wants to build an architectural icon to rival the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

According to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the Prince wants the Mirror Line to be completed by 2030. However this is seen as wildly over-ambitious and engineers have reportedly warned that it could take 50 years for the project to be completed.

The project was designed by US-based Morphosis Architects who have designed a series of 790-metre-long skyscrapers, connected in a line through the desert. The city would have no cars or streets in the usual sense, but will boast underground public transport, freight and municipal services.

In announcing the project earlier this year the Prince said that the whole 75-mile-long complex can be covered in just 20 minutes using the in-built public transport network.

Saudis will likely look for outside investment

The Mirror Line project forms one part of the planned creation of Neom, but there are four other structures in the pipeline to supplement the central strip of skyscrapers. The Saudi government has announced the future development of Neom Bay, Aqaba Region, Neom Mountain and Neom Industrial City.

Neom is at the very heart of Saudi Arabia’s flag for business and tourism develop, a project known as the ‘2030 Vision’. However despite boasting a huge gross domestic product and vast oil reserves, Saudi Arabia will be reliant on finding friends overseas to secure the required funding. This could be difficult.

The Gulf State has been boycotted by most Western nations since 2018 for the torture and murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

When running for office in 2020 President Biden said he would make Saudi Arabia a pariah state but he controversially met with the Prince earlier this month in a bid to secure greater supplies of crude oil to address high gas prices in the United States. It remains to be seen if this meeting will represent a shift in relationship between the two countries, and whether it could encourage outside investment into Mirror Line.


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