Mohammed bin Salman, son of Saudi Arabia’s king and the nation’s de facto ruler, has declared that the kingdom will construct two buildings taller than the Empire State Building in a straight parallel line extending 75 miles from the Gulf of Aqaba into the mountainous desert, called the Mirror Line.
The elongated pair of structures will be encased in reflective glass, housing up to five million people, costing a trillion dollars, atop a high-speed rail, with a soccer stadium 1,000 feet up bridging the two buildings, with struts to accommodate the curvature of the Earth, all powered by green energy. This pair of buildings – extending from a new, modernist city the size of Massachusetts called Neom – will be “my Pyramids,” says MBS, who wants them done by 2030.
Engineers beg to differ: it might take fifty years. In short, it might not be built.
The design team for the Mirror Line is led by nutcase American architect Thom Mayne, of the firm Morphosis, which means it should not be built.
Notwithstanding the pampered photos included here, the project imagined by the prince seems more dystopian than utopian. Perhaps this is not out of line with the Pyramids themselves, built by slaves as tombs for their masters the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. High-tech digital spying on Saudi residents and workers is planned, as already exists to monitor people in China. Indigenous Arabian desert communities have already been uprooted, and dissidents who sneer at the intentions of MBS have been arrested – some, it is said, executed.
How did the Saudi petro-visionary gather his breathtaking arrogance? Well, why should he value his authority beneath Khufu, who built Giza! Perhaps the bluster of MBS arises in part from having successfully executed an intelligence agent posing as a journalist – something no American president has surely ever done! – and getting away with it, thumbing his nose at tsk-tsking hypocrites around the world.
Who knows how he managed to conceive such a gargantuan stupidity? Maybe Thom Mayne had something to do with it. He is a specialist and winner of the Pritzker Prize. Nothing like the Mirror Line has ever been built in the world – and with good reason!