'A Revolution in Civilization'
If this is an improvement on several millennia of human urban living, I'd hate to see what a diminution would look like. Called "The Line," this great leap backward in urban development is the brainchild of an outfit called NEOM, derived from the Ancient Greek word for "new" combined with the letter "M," an abbreviation of Mostaqbal, an Arabic word meaning "the future" -- and also the first letter of the first name of "Prince" Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
How would you feel about moving into a vertical city, where the lives of nine million people are contained in a building spanning over 170km in length, 500 metres in height, and 22 metres in width? These are the dimensions of The Line, and drone footage over north-western Saudi Arabia has shown it’s already in construction.
To some it’s a futuristic utopia, where a five-minute walk can take you to all of your daily needs, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the city’s stadiums, opera houses, and perfectly manicured gardens. To others however, the strict Sharia laws combined with the high levels of surveillance The Line enables makes the city seem straight out of a sci-fi horror.
No roads or cars will be seen in The Line, and since it will run on 100% renewable energy, the city will have a zero-carbon footprint. The planners also promise a perfect climate year-round, access to all facilities within just a short walk, and a high-speed rail service to enable rapid transit to the other neighbourhoods known as “modules.”
“95% of land will be preserved for nature [and] people’s health and wellbeing will be prioritized,” making this city the perfect home for “the best and the brightest,” the site exalts.
So what could possibly go wrong?
"New Mostaqbal." That sounds vaguely familiar. Sort of like "New Seoul" from Cloud Atlas. And wasn't that a peachy place?
And when you combine futuristic technology with a 7th-century moral system from a dark and savage part of the world that has brought humanity almost nothing but trouble... well, there's a heck of a lot than go wrong.
The top concerns regarded the lack of natural light in the lower levels of the building, the noise and reverberations that the high-speed rail will create, and the estimated 1.8bn tonnes of carbon dioxide required to construct the “zero-carbon footprint” city. Beyond the worries related to the building itself, many fear the consequences of building such a structure that enables high levels of surveillance and control within a country governed by an “exceptionally murderous and repressive regime.”
Ah, but to the fascists of the World Economic Forum, one suspects that last bit might be a feature, not a bug. As the Davoisie says: "2023 will be a year of action," so buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a bumpy ride.