Analysis of Saudi Megacity The Line at Neom

Many developers shoot for the moon. Only one wants to build his own.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitions for his planned desert megacity, Neom, are so audacious that it’s hard to know where to begin. From an artificial moon to glow-in-the-dark sand, much about Neom is still in the realm of science fiction.

But from a development perspective, the component of the project that’s caught the most attention — and raised the most eyebrows — is The Line.

MBS hopes to construct the world’s largest structure: two buildings rising up to 1,600 feet, running parallel for over 100 miles (not a typo) and accommodating up to 9 million people (ditto), all with zero carbon emissions. The budget? Up to a trillion dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A project of this scale and scope raises the kind of questions no one has ever needed to ask before, The Real Deal’s Hiten Samtani told the B1M, YouTube’s largest construction-focused channel, for a documentary about The Line.

“Some of it is so beyond our understanding at the moment. There are raw engineering challenges that even the world’s foremost engineers haven’t figured out,” Samtani said.

For example, The Line is so long that its design team is considering leaving a gap at the top of the buildings to account for the curvature of the Earth.

Though most observers find the project to be out of whack with reality, Samtani said there could still be benefits from taking a crack at it.

“If in the course of developing Neom — because there is very real money being thrown at this project — we find new innovations in structural engineering, in sustainability, in ways to apply technology to the built environment at scale in a way that we hadn’t before, that’s fascinating — and that’s great for the world.”

Watch the B1M’s documentary above.

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