The Line Actually Begins Construction, 2023

Drone footage revealed that construction on Saudi Arabia’s ‘The Line’ actually started. The project has been heavily debated in recent months and most said that it’s too gigantic to build and rather looks like something out of a science fiction movie. But now that construction has actually begun, how will this turn out? Could this be the beginning of the world’s greatest megaproject ever? Or will the Line become a trillion-dollar construction mistake that will eventually be abandoned? Let’s find out! The exact plan of the Line was unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohamad Bin Salman in July 2022 and we already covered it in our first video about the Line. He proposed two parallel 500-meter-tall skyscrapers made of reflective glass which are supposed to span 170 kilometers through the desert. This would be equivalent to two lines consisting of 2000 One World Trade Centers – each. The Line is not just the biggest megaproject ever proposed. It’s a new way of living. There would be no cars inside the city and everything you need would be within a five-minute walk.

There would be no cars inside the city and
everything you need would be within a five-minute

All of the energy would be produced through wind and solar farms and in addition, any water used will come from a carbon-free desalination plant. All of this would make the Line a ‘zero carbon city’. The proposal caused a mixture of shock, awe, and suspicion. And while the trailers were watched millions of times on YouTube and other platforms, there was hardly any information on what was really happening on the construction site. Therefore, almost everyone believed that The Line was just a publicity stunt to gain attention. But then, around 3 months after the presentation of Mohamad Bin Salman, things took a surprising turn. Construction began: On the 19th of October 2022, drone footage of the construction site was revealed by OT Sky. The video shows docents of excavators digging trenches along the desert, which will form the foundation of the Line. According to the drone footage, the excavation already leads very far inland. It’s hard to say how far it exactly goes but they could be close to the mountains in the background. According to the official map on Neom’s website, the Line starts at this bay and cuts through these mountains. Because of the terrain and since the sea is visible in the background, the footage was probably taken somewhere here.

probably taken somewhere here.

So the excavations might already be 10-20 kilometers long. On top of that, more infrastructure is being built around the whole project. On google maps, there are multiple developments visible. There is a whole site with offices and camps close to the mountains, a Neom community with a football field and swimming pools, and a Neom experience center. Since these images aren’t up to date there are probably a lot more by now. So, now that construction has really started, how could this turn out? There is nothing comparable to this in the whole world. So we can only speculate what will happen next. But we can say that there are basically 3 possible outcomes. The first possibility is that construction on the Line will come to a halt in a few months or even years without any people moving in. Similar to the Jeddah Tower or the Dubai Creek Tower, it could turn into a project where its construction status remains unclear. In both cases, stunning renderings were shown and great promises were made. Construction was started and it looked like the buildings would actually be finished. But then everything came to a halt and no progress has been made since. However, this seems to be a less likely outcome for the Line, since it is backed by an entire country and received massive attention from the whole world. Getting the project even close to completion could be a great opportunity to bring more tourists and investors to Saudi Arabia. The second scenario is that Saudi Arabia heavily invests in their current plans and that over the next decades the country really achieves what it promised in its trailers. Implementing certain features could definitely be possible, like having no cars, generating 100% renewable energy, and implementing the idea of vertical living. However, when it comes to the sheer size of the project, it just seems to be undoable. We mentioned earlier that the Line is supposed to have a similar height as the One World Trade Center, which took around 8 years to complete.

Trade Center, which took around 8 years to

While that’s still a reasonable timeframe, Saudi Arabia wants to build a structure of similar height., but 170 kilometers in length. This would essentially be like building a continuous strip of 2000 One World Trade Centers. And since the project contains two of these lines, it would actually be like building 4000 of them. Simply multiplied by 8 years each, we would end up at 32,000 years. Of course, Saudi Arabia would build them much faster since they could start working on multiple parts at once, but it illustrates the scale quite well. Essentially it would be a task for centuries. To give you another idea, around 40,000 workers constructed the Three Gorges Dam in China, and it took them 17 years. But with a height of just 180 meters and a length of merely 2.3 kilometers, it’s tiny compared to The Line. But there is a third possible outcome: Given that they have already started construction, there might be a compromise. At the start, we asked if this could be the greatest megaproject humanity has ever seen or a trillion-dollar construction mistake. But maybe there is another option. Like many of you in the comments of our last video already said, Saudi Arabia could build it, but not at the insane lengths they envisioned. The Line is built as 5-minute walk segments, so they could essentially build the whole megaproject bit by bit. Depending on the demand they could simply extend the length when needed. In addition, the height of the Line could be adjusted, making the project much more realistic and easier to build. With half of the height, the whole concept of vertical living remains the same and all of the features could still be implemented.

With half of the height, the whole concept
of vertical living remains the same and all

Even if the Line is built at a much smaller scale, it could be the world’s first modern car-free city and open the world up to an entirely different way of living. Across the world, there are multiple initiatives to make cities more car-free. However, these have been limited to reducing car usage rather than removing cars completely. Most major cities are centered around the car, so trying to change this is incredibly complicated. With The Line, they get to start again from scratch. It could be the first larger city in the 21st century where the number of car journeys reaches zero. All of a community’s basic amenities are intended to be within a walkable distance. And if not, a proposed underground railway system can be used for longer journeys through the entire Line. When the first people start moving in by 2030, they could be living in the proposed high-tech society, but just on a much smaller scale. So which of these outcomes is the most likely? What are experts saying about this insane project? It’s a project that not many experts will agree is feasible, particularly under the extremely tight timeline. Antoni Vives, chief urban planning officer at Neom, told CNBC: “I want to be clear about this — Neom is a complex, bold, and highly ambitious undertaking and is most certainly not an easy one to deliver. But we are making strong progress, and it’s exciting to see the vision come to life.” On the other hand, a lot of experts not involved in the project are mentioning other concerns. Marshall Brown, professor of architecture at Princeton University, told Dezeen: “There would be so many physical and environmental phenomena that would have to be dealt with to achieve the incredibly minimal and singular character that the renderings propose.” So what do you think? Now that construction has started, will this project succeed in some way? Will people actually live there in the future or will this project turn into an abandoned megaproject? Let us know in the comments below

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