Why I admire Saudi Arabia’s monstrous new city

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wants me to know that it is building a new city. Its adverts follow me around the internet. ‘Imagine a traditional city and consolidating its footprint, designing to protect and enhance nature.’ I’m imagining. Their city ‘will be home to nine million residents, and will be built with a footprint of just 34 square kilometres. And we are designing it to provide a healthier, more sustainable quality of life’. According to its website, this new town ‘is a civilisational resource that puts humans first’. Which all sounds vaguely nice, if also nicely vague (although as I happen to be a human myself, I do appreciate

The strange tale of NEOM: Saudi Arabia’s struggling desert megacity

Prince Mohammed bin Salman is desperate to shake Saudi Arabia’s addiction to oil. Its price has still not recovered from an American fracking boom seven years ago, and decades of excess have left the world’s largest exporter now needing £55 a barrel to balance the books — more than Iraq, Libya, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. Looking to reinvent his kingdom, MBS is building a new city, NEOM. Sold as a rival to neighbouring Dubai, which has long been the capital of business and tourism in the Middle East, the city will cost £360 billion, will be the size of Belgium and is expected to be completed by 2030. Or