In an announcement that is set to break world records, if true, Saudi Arabia has green-lit plans to build a massive, super-long skyscraper called the Mirror Line by 2030.

Aiming to create something ‘greater than the Egyptian Pyramids’, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initially foresaw announcements from January 2021, regarding an artificial construction project called ‘Neom’ — the futuristic desert city which will house the Mirror Line itself.

Mirror Line Neom

The Mirror Line will consist of two 1,600 feet tall buildings that run parallel to each other across 75 miles of desert, coastal, and mountain landscapes. The building is so long that it will sit on struts to take the curvature of the Earth into account, and will also have a high-speed train line running underneath its length, much like a city-spanning metro system.

According to the Wall Street Journal, who managed to source confidential Saudi documents, the skyscraper will run from the Gulf of Aqaba, through a mountain range, and then extend along the coast into a desert ‘aerotropolis’ — a radical new city planning design that aims to revolutionise transit times by designing urban landscapes around airports.

Salman also said that the project aimed to allow a million residents to meet within a five-minute walk and to travel end-to-end within a 20-minute stretch. It will also reportedly be powered by renewable energy, and serve as a hotbed for vertical farming, integrated directly into the walls of the building.

Mirror Line Neom

Curiously, the plans also highlight a ‘subscription model’ for residents, where they would be provided with three meals a day. Ultimately, the community aims to house five million people; about the capacity of 37 thousand average 9-floor apartment buildings.

Too Good To Be True?

Sea Neom

If you’re anything like me, all of this talk might leave you feeling a bit skeptical. While Saudi Arabia does have the funds, is such a project possible from an engineering standpoint, and if so, is it even a good idea?

As far as the funding goes, WSJ claims that rising oil prices — which President Joe Biden tried and failed to reduce earlier this month — can help fund such mega-projects within the Gulf nation, which happens to produce 12.5% of the world’s oil.

Neom will cover 25,000 square kilometres, which is slightly larger than the entire state of Meghalaya. The UN Tourism Agency UNWTO has even released a statement regarding the project, explaining it’s unusual name and scope:

“The name ‘NEOM’ is derived from two words. The first three letters from the Ancient Greek prefix neo-meaning ‘new.’ The fourth letter is from the abbreviation of Mostaqbal, an Arabic word meaning ‘future.’ And the name suggests, it will be the land of the future where the best ideas, most promising start-ups, established companies, future industries and the best talents are joined to create solutions for the challenges facing humanity.”

Mountains Neom

Despite these lofty claims, Neom has already faced human rights criticisms when it was announced that local tribes were forcibly displaced from the area and that security personnel shot a resident dead.

Then there’s the actual task at hand. Prince Salman aims to see the project completed in 2030. While builders and planners were initially working with completion estimates that ranged to around half a century. There are also questions regarding whether or not post-pandemic citizens would actually want to relocate to an inescapable high-rise building.

Finally, the project’s planet-friendly stance is hampered by the fact that the Mirror Line is so big (and reflective), that it is likely to disrupt migratory bird patterns and cause envrionmental instability.

(Featured Image Credits: Wall Street Journal)