Saudi Arabia is developing a new 150-story, built-from-scratch city that will serve as a semi-enclosed environment where people can live and work without ever setting foot outside. And while the promo videos released on Monday are likely an attempt to give the development a utopian feel that so many people are reminded of”intentional citiesof the 20th century, the project seems extremely dystopian.
The city, fully walled on four sides with some sort of ventilation on top, is expected to be around 546 meters high (500 meters), 218 meters wide (200 meters) and 105 miles long (170 km), according to the promotion. . videos, and will feature state-of-the-art technology as well as end-to-end high-speed transport. Cars will be totally useless.
A video uploaded to Twitter proclaims that this new city will house 9 million inhabitants to offer a healthier and “sustainable” quality of life. And although it is advertised as an eco-friendly project, with water and electricity supplies billed as “100% renewable”, details have yet to be provided.
“For too long, humanity has lived in dysfunctional, polluted cities that ignore nature. Now a revolution in civilization is taking place. Imagine a city that is traditional and consolidating its footprint, designing to protect and enhance nature,” explains the narrator of the new video.
The video shows what appears to be autonomous drones zipping around the new city, with plenty of greenery. And people who live there will supposedly be able to go from one end to another in just 20 minutes.
“Residents have access to all their daily needs within 5-minute walk neighborhoods,” the narrator continues.
Another promotional video, uploaded to YouTube Tuesday and similar in content, shows the city from the perspective of a young woman literally flying through the environment. And its soundtrack definitely gives it a dystopian sound – a dark and chilling rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World”.
Why would they use a dark, creepy version of the song, something you’d be more likely to hear in the trailer for a 2010s movie about a serial killer? Your guess is as good as ours. But it’s definitely a choice.
As we mentioned before, this is far from the first time that an incredibly large planned community has taken shape on the drawing board. Even Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Showed Something similar in 2019though his plan is for a space colony.
Whether it’s the hypercapitalist city of George Pullman in Chicagolandthe drug-free cult of Synanon in California, or Upton Sinclair’s socialist cooperative in New Jersey, history has shown that intentional communities are often ruined by the egos of the people who build them. And there’s arguably no bigger ego on the planet than the developer of this town, Mr. Bone-saw himself, Mohammad bin Salman.
“We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing cities across our world, and NEOM is at the forefront of providing new and imaginative solutions to address these issues,” MBS said in a statement. press release on the project.
“NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upwards a reality,” the Saudi royal continued.
The question is whether MBS will be able to pull off this one. The country probably has enough money to make it happen, but as countless utopian communities of the 19th and 20th centuries have taught us, it always takes more than money to make a utopian experiment work.