Why NEOM Saudi Arabia Is An Ecological Disaster

It’s meant to be a futuristic urban development. But NEOM in Saudi Arabia is an ecological disaster. Here’s why

By Chere Di Boscio

It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia is aiming to change its reputation as a head-chopping, Wahabi extremist nation run by an oil-rich dictatorship. It’s doing so by buying world-class footballers to play for its national team; bringing Formula 1 and various golf championships to the Kingdom, and by hosting international events like the 2029 Asian Winter Games, for example.

Saudi Arabia is also claiming to create several eco-friendly futuristic developments. Namely, the $500 billion project that is NEOM.

According to its website, “NEOM is reimagining urbanism to be people-first and nature-friendly. THE LINE and the connectivity of our regions will be a model for the future-setting new global standards for liveability.”

But we genuinely hope NEOM does NOT set any future global standards for liveability. It’s an example of greenwashing at its worst, and also exemplifies how a stress on avoiding ‘climate change’ often comes with disastrous policies that rape the planet’s resources, destroy its flora and fauna, and violate human rights.

More specifically, here’s why we think NEOM is an ecological disaster – even a tragedy!

All images but final sourced from NEOM

Why NEOM Saudi Arabia Is An Ecological Disaster

The Sustainability of THE LINE

Saudi Arabia’s THE LINE is one part of the NEOM ecological disaster. It’s touted by the dictatorship as being a car-and-road-free ‘eco city’. People will get around via an underground rail system called The Spine. They say this high speed train will be able to travel from one end of the 170km long line to the 20 minutes – though this is highly disputed. (It’s more likely to take over an hour). It’s claimed NEOM will be ‘carbon neutral’. That’s partially due to the fact that the Saudis are planning to plant 100 million trees, shrubs and grasses in the desert by 2030.

Fresh water for the town will come from solar domes that turn seawater into fresh water through desalination. It is estimated that in 10 years, this place will be making a whopping 1 million cubic meters of fresh water every single day.

THE LINE is so-named due to the fact that it’s formed by two walls that are 500m high, 200m wide, and 170km long. The town will be powered by renewable energy – namely wind turbines and solar panels. It is claimed that its impact will be ‘beyond zero carbon‘ and puts ‘nature first’.

Personally, I think this is the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever heard.

Basic Criticism of THE LINE

There’s absolutely nothing that’s eco-friendly about THE LINE or NEOM overall. Nothing. In fact, that project is so shatteringly Earth-damaging, it’s hard to know where to start.

Destroying virgin Arabian mountains and ecosystems to create new roads, housing foundations and an airport is one thing. But this project has gone far beyond that.

For example, NEOM is building a marina that will be twice the size of any other marina globally. It will be capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world (which themselves are terrible for the environment, by the way.).

This marina is the largest excavation project in the world, with about 1 million cubic metres of earth being moved every week. Don’t forget that earth – even in the desert – is alive. It contains countless microorganisms, insects and animals. All of which are now being displaced, disrupted and killed.

But that’s not all. Marine life will likely be destroyed on an unprecedented scale.

Off the Charts Water Pollution

As mentioned, THE LINE will desalinate 1m cubic metres of water every single day. It sounds benign, but this process is actually highly contaminating.

Desalination creates several byproducts which require specific disposal steps that must be followed to keep people and the environment safe. Most facilities use hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, and hydrochloric acid to prepare the water for this process. Once the chemicals are used, then must be disposed of correctly to prevent them from entering the water table.

Moreover, the byproduct of desalination is brine. Facilities will send the purified water for further processing once the salt is gone. But the remainder is a super-saturation product of sodium that requires careful disposal.

Many facilities just put it back into the ocean. But there are numerous marine species which die off with the higher sodium levels. The smallest creatures of the food chain experience the most severe impacts from desalination. Phytoplankton forms the base of all marine life, and is most likely to die off first. This results in lower food levels for all other marine creatures. In short, the entire water ecosystem will be negatively impacted by THE LINE and NEOM.

Why NEOM Saudi Arabia Is An Ecological Disaster

Professional Criticism Of The Project

Many professionals who were involved with the NEOM ecological disaster have since spoken out about how ridiculous the project is. One, for example, is Peter Cook. He has raised serious doubts about its feasibility. Speaking at an event in Venice, he described THE LINE as ‘an amazing absurdity’ and strongly criticised its proposed 500 meter height.

And with good reason. 170km of mirrored walls – yes, mirrored! – is guaranteed to kill millions of birds and flying insects, if not more, every year. Bird collision is already one of the biggest threats to avian life. Back in 2014, scientists estimated between 365 million and one billion birds died from these collisions every year in the US alone.

In addition to the hundreds of native bird species that fly through the skies of Saudi Arabia, millions of birds migrate through the country every year via the Red Sea, along which THE LINE will be built. The wind turbines providing energy for residents are likely to kill countless more birds, too. Moreover, the intense heat generated from the sun on such vast mirrors in the desert could create a microclimate where insects and microorganisms die.

What were these engineers thinking?

All Animals Suffer

Of course, there are more than just birds that live in the desert. There are sand cats, snakes, foxes, lizards, and many other terrestrial animals. All of which will be unable to move beyond this nearly 200km long wall. Although, I should point out, supporters of the wall claim there will be “curated corridors on the ground plane” for animals to move through. Whatever that means.

Despite THE LINE’s claims of being eco friendly and having no carbon emissions, many experts strongly disagree. Professor Philip Oldfield, for example, argues that constructing a 500 meter tall building with low carbon materials is practically impossible. He estimates that the line’s construction could generate over 1.8 billion tons of embodied carbon dioxide. This whopping figure is equivalent to more than four years of the entire UK’s emissions! Oldfield says the “vast embodied carbon” associated with building THE LINE will definitely “overwhelm any environmental benefits that a small footprint provides”. Well, duh.

Why NEOM Saudi Arabia Is An Ecological Disaster

Invasive Species

The NEOM website reads: “For native animals and plants, they will live in harmony with the land and sea – and be under no threat from people or desertification….For NEOM is an accelerator of planetary regeneration and nature has to come first.”

But what they fail to mention is that most of the plants that will be imported to THE LINE won’t be native. And, as anyone with Japanese knotweed in their garden knows, the wrong invasive plant can not only prevent others from thriving, it can cause serious unanticipated damage.

Artificial ecosystems are vulnerable to invasive species themselves. Insects like ants and mosquitos, which can travel via imported plants, bring potential risks to human health. The waterways depicted in THE LINE’s design images could end up as fertile grounds to disease-carrying mosquitos that don’t have natural predators nearby, for example.

This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario. Insects have created havoc in artificial ecosystems before. For example, in the 1990s, the US’s Biosphere 2 — a $200m glass house built as a research project — was overrun by an invasive species of ant. It decimated the introduced insect population, with disastrous results.

In short, NEOM will likely be an ecological disaster, because the Saudis think they can outsmart nature.

Going Against Nature

Indeed, perhaps the NEOM project’s greatest overall eco sin is that it just goes against all things natural. In fact, it’s an inversion of nature.

For example? Taking the salt out of salt water and blocking animals from accessing their natural habitats is all pretty bad. But changing microclimates for human pleasure is next-level evil.

Trojina is part of the NEOM project that will be in the mountains of Saudi Arabia. And its main attraction? Get this: ski slopes.

Yep, you heard that right. Skiing in a country that frequently reaches 50C temperatures. An artificial lake will surround the artificial snow slopes. And various chalets, villas, and luxury hotels with amenities such as spas, bathhouses, and ‘man made microclimates’ will surround the fake lake. Trojina is set to be completed by 2026, just in time for Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games. Yes, you heard that right, too. Saudi Arabia. Winter Games. Sorry, but…WTF?

the line saudi arabia

Evil Partners

Of course, Greenpeace and others with common sense have criticised the creation of this entirely fake climate. Greenpeace warned that altering natural ecosystems can have far reaching and unpredictable consequences on neighbouring ecosystems. Obviously.

The irony is that NEOM purports to be fighting ‘climate change’. All while radically changing not only the climates of the NEOM region, but entire ecosystems, too.

But such malice shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Trojina has partnered with Bechtel to build the resort. In case you’re not aware, that’s the highly corrupt corporation that literally pressured the USA to go to war with Iraq. So the US army could destroy the country, in order for Bechtel to build it back from scratch. Which they did. For huge profits. At the expense of millions of Iraqi lives.

And speaking of human suffering, NEOM is causing that, too.

Human Rights Violations Already

NEOM is not only an ecological disaster, it’s a human one, too.

To construct THE LINE, thousands of indigenous people, including the Hawaitat tribe, were forcibly displaced. This issue became even more alarming when a Saudi court sentenced five members of the Hawaitat tribe to death for their opposition to the eviction.

So much for ‘modernising’ the dictatorship that is Saudi Arabia! In response to these troubling developments, the Hawaita tribe has urgently requested a United Nations investigation to probe allegations of forced displacement and abuse by Saudi authorities. But you know what? That will never happen. Because the UN supports NEOM, as it aligns with their Agenda 2030 sustainability goals.

Of course, Saudi Arabia is well known for its heinous human rights violations. From brutally oppressing minorities and women to handing out cruel punishments and death penalties (that include beheading and even crucifixion), the Kingdom is stuck in the Middle Ages, despite its high-tech accomplishments.


A Prison-Like Atmosphere

No matter how pretty it may be, the enclosed structure of THE LINE is bound to feel almost like a prison over time. Unlike normal cities in the world, you can’t just drive out of your town and explore neighbouring villages. It’s hard to say how connected residents would feel to the outside world.

Dwellers will live in ‘5-minute cities’ where everything they need, from doctors to malls to workplaces, will just be 5 minutes away. I don’t know about you, but I’d go crazy if I stayed within a 5 minute radius of my house every day! Furthermore, the energy consumption of each resident will be carefully monitored. All in the name of ‘sustainability’ of course. But given the dictatorship’s penchant for punishment, who is to say your power won’t just be cut off if you consume more than they like?

As for food, don’t expect world-class cuisine here. Given the isolation of THE LINE, its lack of arable land and its distance from major produce and meat producers, fresh food is an issue. So it’s not surprising that NEOM has partnered with Topian, a biotech company committed to providing ‘high-quality food products’ based on:

  • climate-proof agriculture (aka GMOs)
  • regenerative aquaculture (aka farmed fish)
  • novel foods (aka biolab made ‘food’)

Sounds delicious!

Wellbeing At Stake

Oh, and it’s not just the food that’s unlikely to be great for human health. The water can be dangerous, too.

The chemical byproducts of desalination can leech into plumbing systems due to the acidic nature of the purification process. Desalination also removes all of the nutrients that are in water, including magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which we need for healthy living. Industrial plants typically add these items back into the supply, but this means the price of potable water is likely to be very high.

While NEOM claims it has the wellbeing of its residents at heart, the opposite seems to be true. Basic human needs, such as freedom of movement, access to fresh food and water are all being restricted.


There can be little doubt that the NEOM project is a major ecological disaster. At best, it will be a white elephant that no one wants, and where no one lives. An abandoned project that spends billions of dollars transporting materials around the world and disrupting ecosystems.

At worst, it will be a high-tech prison that displaces indigenous people and destroys all the pristine nature around it.

What really gets my goat is that while we, in the West, are told we should stop flying, turn the tap off when we brush our teeth and consume less, the world’s elites are silent when it comes to the world’s biggest human rights violators shipping in mega tonnes of construction materials from around the world to create a $500 billion project that will destroy countless animal lives, create gargantuan amounts of garbage, and literally change microclimates, surely for the worse.

Isn’t it time we stopped taking the blame for planetary destruction, and started pointing fingers to where it really counts?

Do you think NEOM is an ecological disaster that the Saudi government should stop? Let us know in the comments, below! Or leave comments on their social media channels here: https://www.instagram.com/discoverneom/ https://www.facebook.com/NEOM/ https://www.tiktok.com/@neom

Chere Di Boscio
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