The Line in Neom Is a ‘Completely Ludicrous’ Design, Professor Says

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The Line — a part of Neom that comprises two mirrored skyscrapers — is one of the most famous regions of the planned megacity.

Saudi Arabia’s plans for the futuristic city have baffled architects and designers, including those who contributed to the original designs. The giant structures have faced criticism about their impact on wildlife, everyday appeal, and general usefulness.

Andreas Krieg, a Gulf specialist at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College London, called plans for The Line “completely ludicrous.”

“The Line is a project that is not sustainable; it’s a completely ludicrous megaproject that was never realizable because of the sheer cost of it,” he told Business Insider.

He said that while some of Neom’s regions have clear aims, the central city “has no real purpose” or “benefit.”

The megacity is also set to include an octagonal floating city with a sustainable port, a luxury island resort, and a ski and adventure mountain range.

“From a commercial statecraft strategy point of view, Neom is a very viable project and has a lot going for it,” Krieg said. “But you need to have a plan of how it can be realized to attract investors, and the Saudis are still falling short of that.”


Satellite image of construction on The Line.

Satellite image of construction on The Line.

Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies



Plans for the megacity have reportedly been scaled back in recent months.

The Line was originally planned to accommodate 9 million people by 2030. However, a recent report from Bloomberg said this estimate had been lowered to fewer than 300,000 people by that date.

The costs associated with the project have also worried planners.

Executives working on Neom reportedly have dismissed the official Suadi figure of $500 billion as unrealistically low. The first 1.5 miles of The Line alone is expected to cost more than $100 billion, two people familiar with the work told The Wall Street Journal.

“The world has never seen anything like The Line,” Krieg said. “There hasn’t been a single project that would have consumed so many resources and had no real purpose.”

Krieg is far from the first to question the viability of the glossy city.

Last year, British architect Peter Cook, who is involved in the project, called the city an “amazing absurdity,” adding that the proposed height was “a bit stupid and unreasonable” in comments reported by the Architects Journal.

Representatives for Neom did not immediately respond to a request for comment, made outside normal working hours.

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