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Neom: New satellite images show progress of Saudi Arabia's 'The Line'

Recent aerial imagery shows construction of buildings and horizontal excavation resembling a line as flagship project of new city moves forward
Satellite image taken in May 2023 shows construction of base village and excavation activity on 'The Line' in Saudi Arabia's northwestern Tabuk province (CG Satellite/Soar)
Satellite image taken in May 2023 shows construction of base village and excavation activity on 'The Line' in Saudi Arabia's northwestern Tabuk province (CG Satellite/Soar)

Construction is underway on "The Line", the flagship project of Saudi Arabia's Neom megacity, new satellite imagery seen by Middle East Eye shows.

The $500bn megacity, which organisers claim will be 33 times the size of New York City, is due to include a 170km straight-line city. It is being built in the Tabuk province of northwestern Saudi Arabia.

Two new satellite images analysed by Soar, an online digital atlas, show new developments in the province.

The images were taken last month by CG Satellite, a remote-sensing satellite company in China.

In the first image, which shows the central part of Neom, there appears to be significantly expanded work around the main construction base of the project, including several new buildings in the base village.

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There is also excavation activity and ground movement, according to Soar, in comparison to Google Maps satellite imagery taken before the project's construction when the desert area was untouched. That activity appears to faintly be in the shape of a horizontal line.

There also appears to be a mining operation, as well as earthworks near what will become Neom's tourism visitor centre.

neom the line eastern part
Satellite image taken in May 2023, overlaid on existing Google Earth image, shows recent earthworks in the eastern part of 'The Line' in Saudi Arabia's Tabuk province (CG Satellite/Soar/Google)

The second newly published image, taken from the eastern part of Neom on the plateau heights, shows earthworks that clearly resemble a straight line.

Analysis by Soar suggests this could potentially be deep excavation to prepare access to basement rock in the western areas of the new city.

The new developments pictured in May 2023 include the removal of a tower on a power line in the area, likely part of the new city's continued expansion.

No cars or roads

The Line will have no cars or roads and will be populated by one million residents from around the world, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced two years ago. 

The kingdom's de facto leader also said that it would be possible to travel from one end of The Line to the other in 20 minutes, implying that a high-speed rail service would be built. 

Two parallel, mirrored buildings that are nearly 500 metres tall and 120km long are also planned as part of the project, according to designs uncovered last year.

In addition to the horizontal city, Neom is also touted to include an eight-sided city that floats on water and a ski resort with a folded vertical village.

The Saudi government has been accused of forcibly displacing members of the Howeitat tribe, who have lived for centuries in the Tabuk province in northwest Saudi Arabia, to make way for the project.

At least 47 members of the tribe have been either arrested or detained for resisting eviction, including five who have been sentenced to death, according to a report by the UK-based Alqst rights group.

MEE revealed last month that the UK government was facilitating collaboration between British businesses and the planned Saudi megacity Neom, despite allegations of serious human rights abuses taking place to make way for the project.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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