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NEOM and THE LINE: The Saudi Crown Prince is promoting a giant science fiction-style project

Suspension

imagine lives in A vertical city with no cars and a mild climate, it sits in twin heights of more than 100 miles, with hanging gardens and stunning views. At this Shangri-La hotel, there is no traffic or pollution, just green space, amenities and high speed mass transit.

Twisting it in Saudi Arabia, in a remote region of the desert, And that you can’t move there any time soon, because it’s only in promotional videos – the latest pet-in-the-sky project of the country’s crown prince and de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS.

This week Prince a statement New details about the project, versions it has been talking about for years, calling it a “civilizational revolution” that would challenge “traditional horizontal cities.” The walled city is about 100 miles long and one-eighth of a mile wide, and forms the “infrastructure backbone” of a larger, larger city, known as Neom, planned in northwest Saudi Arabia.

Presentation in Jeddah on Monday – including slick (however, some would say, miserable) promo pictures and Talk about an IPO A days-long campaign for the media and public relations was launched. Gulf News, based in Dubai called him “Saudi Arabia’s massive future”, while others describe it Ambitions as “remarkable”.

According to technology news site The Verge, promotional footage of the city It seems like “The result of some very interesting marketing executives and two weeks of all the folks who stayed up late at Blender.”

“If you have money, you have to raise the bar,” Mohammed said during the unveiling of the project in Jeddah. Reuters reported. “Why do we have to copy normal cities?” he added.

Saudi crown prince meets Macron, as Khashoggi’s group urges prosecution in France

Details and new materials solved Global interest in the futuristic giant project increased, as Mohammed departed on Tuesday on his first official trip to Europe since the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which drew international condemnation.

Government critics were quick to highlight what appears to be a smart timing.

“Mohammed bin Salman is doing it again: reviving a miserable vanity project to distract attention from a poor human rights record, while indifferent Western leaders welcome him after he has learned to hide his fingerprints from ongoing atrocities,” said Khalid al-Jabri, a Saudi national whose brothers had been welcoming him. . Imprisoned and now living in exile in the United States.

The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prince was eager to end his pariah status and rehabilitate the oil-rich kingdom’s image as a global power looking to the future with modern amenities and a diversified economy.

In the past, he has used NEOM, a $500 billion project owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, as a “key tool for him to consolidate his power” and “a mainstay in his diplomatic efforts,” Ali Dogan, a research fellow at the Berlin-based Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient , wrote last year.

The city of the future in Saudi Arabia has women in sports bras and mixed offices

The prince was in France, Thursday, where he is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron at the presidential palace. Earlier this week, Mohamed traveled to Athens and signed several bilateral agreements, including an energy deal that will see Saudi Arabia exports electricity to Greece.

Greek Development Minister Adonis Georgiades praised what he said was the kingdom’s move towards “a new era of humanity in renewable energy and new technology”. According to the Guardian.

“Three years after Khashoggi’s murder, Greece made it clear this week that politicians would rather talk about energy than the star journalist who was beheaded by Saudi agents in Istanbul,” the newspaper reported.

Muhammad had previously been ostracized by both the Biden administration and European governments after US intelligence concluded that he had approved the operation that led to Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s largest city.

But as Western countries face deep cuts in Russian energy and soaring gas prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, some leaders have done so. They softened their positionsand downplaying concerns about the country’s human rights record while emphasizing what officials say is Riyadh’s important role as a strategic partner.

Saudi Arabia has the world’s second largest proven oil reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“The relationship with Saudi Arabia is greater than any individual,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken He said at a press conference On the same day the US intelligence assessment was released last year.

Earlier this month, President Biden traveled to Jeddah to meet with several Middle East leaders, including Mohammed, and greeted the prince with a fist that drew criticism even from within his own party. Biden said he confronted the prince directly about Khashoggi’s murder, “and he explained what I thought at the time and what I think now.”

Rights groups say the administration should press more.

Bethany Al-Haidari, the Saudi case manager at the Freedom Initiative, an organization that advocates for unjustly detained prisoners in the Middle East, said.

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