Connect with us

Current

The new pyramids? That’s the vision of the Saudi tyrant whose desert city could cost $1 TRILLION

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Just imagine, if you can, a 105-mile long, pencil-thin horizontal skyscraper — a sidescraper — that cuts through high mountains and arid desert.

It will house a city of nine million people. There will be no cars or streets but flying taxis: oh and a giant fake moon, animatronic dinosaurs and an army of robots to harvest food, cook and clean for the pampered population.

And carbon emissions will be zero.

As these fantastical concept pictures show, there would be nothing like the city of Neom anywhere on the planet.

Which is no surprise.

The sci-fi architecture — often reminiscent of futuristic 1982 film Blade Runner — is indeed influenced by the masters of Hollywood special effects.

The 105-mile long monolith will boast a stadium up a mountain, a ski resort of a Jurassic Island

The 105-mile long monolith will boast a stadium up a mountain, a ski resort of a Jurassic Island 

Throughout history, megalomaniac dreamers have sought to rival the ambition of Egyptian pharoahs and build their own equivalent of the great pyramids with varying degrees of success.

Now it is the turn of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud with his plans to create Neom.

And it is already struggling to take shape in one of the world’s most barren places.

Detailed plans were unveiled this week for this vast metropolis and, with a price tag estimated to rise as high as $1 trillion, it is clear that they are getting ever more outlandish.

The big question, even with his country’s $620 billion sovereign wealth fund, not to mention the world’s second largest proven oil reserves to play with, is whether his vision is just too fantastical ever to be realised. It would be the biggest structure ever built — but could it become history’s most epic folly?

bin Salman presides over an authoritarian regime that routinely jails, tortures and murders opponents — notably the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 — but MBS, as he’s known, has tried hard to be seen internationally as a reformer and moderniser.

And it doesn’t get much more modern than Neom, an amalgam of the Greek word for ‘new’ and the Arabic word for ‘future’.

bin Salman presides over an authoritarian regime that routinely tortures and kills opponents - notably the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 - but he is keen to be seen as a moderniser

bin Salman presides over an authoritarian regime that routinely tortures and kills opponents – notably the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – but he is keen to be seen as a moderniser

Mohammad bin Salman reportedly told his advisers: 'I want to build my pyramids'

Mohammad bin Salman reportedly told his advisers: ‘I want to build my pyramids’

Announced in 2017 by the prince, Neom is the flagship project in a masterplan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy as the world increasingly turns to greener energy alternatives.

Five years on, Neom — which MBS insists must be finished by 2030 — has been plagued by setbacks as an army of workers and advisers struggle to cope with his mercurial temperament and ever-changing ideas.

MBS, 36, reportedly found the site for his dream city in Saudi Arabia’s remote province of Tabuk, after landing there in his helicopter. ‘I want to build my pyramids,’ he told advisers. He has already built a palace there.

But at least the pyramids were grounded in what was achievable at the time. An internal ‘style catalogue’ for Neom seen by Bloomberg News includes flying lifts, an urban ‘spaceport’ and buildings ‘shaped like a double helix, a falcon’s outstretched wings and a flower in bloom’. Neom will also feature a ski resort, The Vault, built into a man-made valley created by blowing a chunk out of a mountain (in winter, even in the desert, mountain-top temperatures plunge, so making fake snow outdoors is possible).

A yacht marina is planned for the Red Sea to lure holidaymakers who might otherwise have gone to the French Riviera.

MBS is a sci-fi fan and the Neom team has commissioned work from, among others, designers who created the look of the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Dark Knight Batman films, as well as a futurist who worked on the dystopian zombie movies World War Z and I Am Legend. Chris Gray, a California writer, says he was hired to research the ‘aesthetics’ of key sci-fi films and books, including Blade Runner.

Neom commissioned those who designed Guardians Of The Galaxy and the Dark Knight films

Neom commissioned those who designed Guardians Of The Galaxy and the Dark Knight films

The glittering centrepiece of Neom will be The Line, an elongated ‘linear’ city 33 times the size of New York. Situated close to the borders with Jordan and Egypt, it will stretch from desert in the east to the Red Sea in the west. The Line, which is being designed by cutting-edge U.S. firm Morphosis Architects, is actually two tall buildings running parallel, connected by walkways. It will be just 656ft (200m) wide. They will have mirrored surfaces and rise up to 1,640ft (500m) above sea level — taller than the Empire State Building.

Neom will have 14 industrial sectors, including energy, media and food production, and two robots for every one citizen.

Challenges remain, not least the amount of shadow that will be created by the parallel buildings. Neom planning papers concede that lack of sunlight could damage the health of some inhabitants.

Gardens and parks, plus a huge sports stadium 1,000ft up where robots could some day wrestle in cage fights, will be housed between the parallel buildings.

The Line is so long that even the curvature of the Earth — about eight inches every mile — has to be considered, so a gap will be left at intervals to ‘bend’ The Line where necessary. A high-speed rail link running under The Line will allow passengers to get from one end of the city to the other in just 20 minutes. An alternative transport method will be those flying taxis.

MBS has hailed The Line as ‘a civilisational revolution that puts humans first’. But foreign investors, who he’s keen to attract, have made clear his regime’s human rights record hardly encourages optimism in his compassion.

MBS has hailed The Mirror Line (pictured) as ‘a civilisational revolution that puts humans first’

MBS has hailed The Mirror Line (pictured) as ‘a civilisational revolution that puts humans first’

MBS says Neom will be a test bed for new technologies that could revolutionise urban life. Despite the region having almost no fresh water and temperatures that soar above 100F, its planners pledge that Neom’s citizens will live in harmony with nature. Desalination plants will process water from the Red Sea and the baking sun will provide solar energy to a fully renewable electric grid.

Cloud seeding, a technology designed to create rain by modifying the weather and outside temperature, will cool the city and water the crops that will provide fresh produce.

So-called ‘smart’ technology is capable of independent action and pretty much everything about Neom will be smart. The vegetables that will grow vertically from the sides of buildings will be ‘autonomously harvested’ by robots and transported to ‘community canteens’. Residents will pay a subscription for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Neom will feature experimental technologies including, in a $5 billion partnership with a U.S. company, the world’s largest green hydrogen production facllity, exploiting the area’s solar and wind power. Other innovations include a Jurassic Park-style island of robot dinosaurs, advanced surveillance systems using drones and microphones to ‘guarantee the safety of the inhabitants’ by monitoring their every move, and holographic teachers ready to teach on demand in schools.

This 2020 image shows a car driving along a stretch of desert which is set to become Neom

This 2020 image shows a car driving along a stretch of desert which is set to become Neom

MBS even wants a beach where the sand glows in the dark. A giant artificial moon would light up each night and might even live-stream images from outer space.

Insiders say the money being hurled at Neom is jaw-dropping even by Saudi standards, much of it lavished on consultants whose ideas often survive only a week or two before being binned.

For instance, Silver Beach, a seaside community for at least 50,000 people, was inspired by the Cote d’Azur and designed by an Italian firm that specialises in creating superyachts. Instead of sand, the beach would have been crushed marble because it would shimmer silver in the sun. Sources say it was scrapped as it wasn’t considered sufficiently ‘distinctive’.

Given Saudi Arabia’s shortage of homegrown engineering and design talent, vast sums are being splashed out on attracting thousands of foreigners with $1 million tax-free, expenses-paid annual salaries for the most senior.

The project has been plagued by delays caused by the pandemic, recession and the reluctance of foreign investors to do business with the repressive Saudi regime. But the biggest headache has been the exodus of foreign staff who have despaired of MBS’s ever grander vision, not to mention his country’s human rights record.

Given Saudi Arabia’s shortage of homegrown engineering and design talent, vast sums are being splashed out on attracting thousands of foreigners

Given Saudi Arabia’s shortage of homegrown engineering and design talent, vast sums are being splashed out on attracting thousands of foreigners

With MBS demanding daily updates and interfering in ever small details, the reportedly volcanic temper of Neom chief Nadhmi al-Nasr and his failure to rein in MBS’s fantasy has prompted dozens of senior staff to resign.

‘We couldn’t even estimate the build cost,’ said a U.S. hospitality expert who fled a job working on the ski resort after only five months. ‘We were hanging buildings on the side of cliffs and we didn’t even know the geology.’

Another stumbling block has been over the 20,000 tribespeople the government plans to relocate. Some have been saying they won’t be removed from ancestral lands: one who refused to back down was denounced as a ‘terrorist’ and killed by Saudi special forces.

Dubai has shown that modern cities can emerge from the desert in years — but sceptics wonder whether Neom may prove to be beyond even the vast riches and vanity of the Saudi royal family.

Source link

Current

Race against time to rescue ‘girl trapped inside’ house reduced to rubble in massive gas explosion

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Emergency services are searching for a four-year-old girl believed to be trapped after a terraced house collapsed following a huge gas explosion and fire in south London this morning.

Neighbours said it sounded ‘like a bomb had gone off’ on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, near Croydon, just after 7am this morning, as 40 firefighters and six fire engines quickly rushed to the scene.

Three people have been hospitalised with potentially life-threatening injuries and the fire brigade confirmed their urban search and rescue crews are searching for one more missing person.

Merton Council has declared a major incident and confirmed it was a gas explosion.

Utility repair and maintenance works were being carried out on the road by Southern Gas Networks, who have been contacted by Mail Online for a comment.

Two neighbours, Kutoya Kukanda, 50, and Delroy Simms, 62, who have been called have been called ‘heroes’ for rescuing three children from the rubble at around 7am, said they feared a young girl was still trapped inside.

Mr Simms, dressed in his pyjamas by the cordon, said the explosion was like an earthquake and knew what it was because ‘that gas was smelling all week, really strong’.

He said that Mr Kukanda passed children out to him as bricks were still falling from the structure.

Videos and pictures shows the house completely reduced to rubble, planks of wood strewn about, and neighbours standing shocked outside in their dressing gowns.

Surrounding properties and vehicles are seriously damaged with tiles and bricks from the destroyed housing laying on top of them.

Around 40 properties have been evacuated as a precaution and a 50-metre cordon is in place. 

One man was treated for burn injuries at the scene and witnesses said other people including a child were stretchered away, Thornton Heath Chronicle reported.

A young girl was also seen stood outside with a blanket being treated for burns, as three people are currently in hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said four people have been rescued and are asking people to avoid the area.

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child's bedroom

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child’s bedroom

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Residents thought a 'bomb had gone off' when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Residents thought a ‘bomb had gone off’ when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin's Road)

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin’s Road)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

On the road where properties sell for around £430,000, the explosion launched a mass of rubble which seriously damaged houses either side of the blast and across the road.

Neighbours said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago and others said they had been feeling dizzy and sick over the last two days.

One person said they were still able to smell gas after the blast which shattered windows and severely damaged neighbouring properties as other houses in the area were also evacuated.

Residents on the street told The Sun gasworks had been taking place for ‘four weeks’ there is no suggestion the works have any link to the blast at this stage.

A mother was crying in the street for her son as his bedroom was opposite the completely destroyed house, said one local.

The 25-year-old woman told MyLondon: ‘His mum was out on the street crying ‘My boy, my boy’.

‘They took him to hospital and we’ve heard since that he’s ok.’

She added that a ‘little girl’ and her dad escaped the destroyed house, and that the mum was rescued afterwards.

One resident, who lives on nearby Carisbrooke Road, said: ‘I heard the explosion at 7am, it was just the biggest bang you’ll ever hear.

‘So I went down the road to see what happened this morning and the whole house is gone, people living nearby said all their windows shook.

‘There was police, fire engines, a helicopter going around overhead. There’s not actually a fire from what I saw but you can still really smell gas, even two roads away where I am. They’re evacuating people from the houses nearby as they’re worried about another explosion.

‘There was a little girl of about 10 or 11 stood outside with a blanket bless her, god knows how she got out of that but she’s being treated for burns.

‘They were saying her older brother was still inside but he later got taken out OK I think.’

Dominic Francis, 41, and his partner heard a loud bang this morning, he said: ‘It is the third or fourth house explosion in the UK recently.

‘Something is wrong, I am worried it will happen to us.’

One Facebook user said: ‘I heard it whilst getting ready for work and thought it sounded like an explosion but was hoping I was wrong and that it was at a building site or something.’

Another added: ‘That was one loud bang thought a bomb had gone off’.

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Nearby properties on Galpin's Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued

Nearby properties on Galpin’s Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued 

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘We have treated four patients at an incident in Galpins Road, Thornton heath. One was discharged on scene and three others were taken to hospital.

‘We remain on scene with our emergency service colleagues.’ 

Merton council said in a statement: ‘We are working with London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police following a major incident at Galpins Road in Pollards Hill.

‘Emergency services are on site following a gas explosion at a residential property, at least one property has been destroyed. We are urging people to avoid the area.

‘Firefighters are currently carrying out systematic searches and working to make the scene safe.

‘An evacuation centre has been established at the New Horizons Centre.’

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters have been called to a fire and explosion on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath.

‘A terraced house has collapsed following an explosion.

‘The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers have taken 13 calls to the incident.

‘The Brigade was called at 0708. Fire crews from Norbury, Mitcham, West Norwood, Woodside and surrounding fire stations attended the scene.

‘The cause of the fire and explosion is not known at this time.’

The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are at the scene. A statement on Twitter said: ‘Officers are at the scene in Galpin’s Road as part of the emergency services response to this incident. Please follow @LondonFire for updates.’

London Ambulance Service said it is also responding to the incident.

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Home REIT acquires €101m UK resi portfolio

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Home REIT plc has acquired 199 additional properties located across England for an aggregate purchase price of €101m (£85.1m). The properties have added a further 869 beds for those in need to the portfolio, bringing the portfolio total to 10,421 and further enhancing the company’s geographic diversification. The acquisitions adhered to the company’s strict investment criteria, providing much-needed accommodation for vulnerable homeless people across England. They are let on an average lease length of 25 years at low and sustainable rents, on new, unbroken, long-term, full repairing and insuring leases to specialist registered homeless charities and community interest companies (CICs), providing them with the sought-after long-term security of tenure. The leases are subject to annual upward-only rent reviews, index-linked to the Consumer Prices Index, with an annual collar and cap of 1% and 4% respectively. Each of the properties is immediately income producing and, following these transactions, the blended net initial yield of the company’s portfolio is ahead of expectations.

 

Charlotte Fletcher, Partner at Alvarium Home REIT Advisors Limited, said: “This latest tranche of acquisitions represents a significant expansion of our portfolio and allows us to scale up our support for homeless people across the UK. The expeditious deployment of the proceeds of our significantly oversubscribed Subsequent Placing in May demonstrates the Company’s impressive capacity to source attractive investment opportunities and the strength of our relationships with local stakeholders. We are excited to welcome Alex to the management team and are confident that his appointment will further bolster our ability to deliver strong returns to investors whilst also fulfilling a pressing social need.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Grade II listed East Sussex family home with a clock tower can be yours for £2.5million

Voice Of EU

Published

on

A striking property on the south coast with its own clock tower is currently up for grabs for £2.5million.

The Clock House is a Grade II listed building in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex.

It has an impressive clock tower that boasts has four clocks made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III.

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and is now being sold by M&W Sales and Lettings.

This unusual property is called the Clock House and it is a Grade II listed building in the East Sussex coastal town of St Leonards-on-Sea

This unusual property is called the Clock House and it is a Grade II listed building in the East Sussex coastal town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The Clock House has an opulent interior with arched doorways and windows framing the views of the surrounding garden

The Clock House has an opulent interior with arched doorways and windows framing the views of the surrounding garden

This living area has a large Tv sitting above a feature fireplace, colourful drape curtains and dark decorative wallpaper

This living area has a large Tv sitting above a feature fireplace, colourful drape curtains and dark decorative wallpaper 

The impressive property was constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827, who were behind many of the Georgian buildings in London

The impressive property was constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827, who were behind many of the Georgian buildings in London

The property was one of the first buildings constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827.

The pair were responsible for many of the historic homes along the South Coast, Tunbridge Wells and London. They were behind much of the building of Georgian London, including being responsible for large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as St John’s Wood and Clapham Common. James also collaborated with John Nash at Regent’s Park.

In 1828, he started building a new season town at St Leonards, based closely on his experiences at Regents Park.

There is a clock tower with four clocks, which were made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III

There is a clock tower with four clocks, which were made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III

There is a multi-coloured tiled floor in the entrance hallway

There are several feature windows at the Clock House

The property has plenty of interesting features, including arched windows and multi-coloured tiled floors in the hallway

This living room has some large dark sofas, a central chandelier, wooden floors and several candle holders

This living room has some large dark sofas, a central chandelier, wooden floors and several candle holders

This hallway has a colourful gold and red wallpaper with coordinating fabric on the sofa as well as dark wooden flooring

This hallway has a colourful gold and red wallpaper with coordinating fabric on the sofa as well as dark wooden flooring

This colourful bedroom has a patterned red wallpaper, red curtains, red window frames and a matching red ceiling

This colourful bedroom has a patterned red wallpaper, red curtains, red window frames and a matching red ceiling 

The Clock House retains many impressive features, including arched gothic doorways and a tiled entrance flooring.

There is an opulent interior, and a landscaped garden outside that includes a bar and dining areas.

It is spread across three floors and is on Maze Hill, overlooking St Leonards Gardens, with views to the sea.

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and M&W Sales and Lettings is handling the sale

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and M&W Sales and Lettings is handling the sale

The property has an asking price of £2.5million and is only a short walk from the centre of the town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The property has an asking price of £2.5million and is only a short walk from the centre of the town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The property has five bedrooms, with this one including a fireplace and an arched window that includes some stained glass

The property has five bedrooms, with this one including a fireplace and an arched window that includes some stained glass

The property has some ornate features including on the walls of this double bedroom that have been decorated with candles

The property has some ornate features including on the walls of this double bedroom that have been decorated with candles

This bathroom has green and gold wallpaper, white tiles on the floor, a life size statue and an appealing roll top bath

This bathroom has green and gold wallpaper, white tiles on the floor, a life size statue and an appealing roll top bath

The property is only a short walk away is St Leonards town centre, which boasts bars, restaurants, independent galleries and shops on Norman and Kings Road.

The towns’ gardens provide a tranquil setting with a range of plants, trees and wildlife, with the star of the show being a central ornamental pond.

The area has several schools including Battle Abbey School, Claremont, Vinehall and Buckswood.

Outside, there is plenty of space to entertain family and friends, including an outdoor dining area and a large lawn

Outside, there is plenty of space to entertain family and friends, including an outdoor dining area and a large lawn

The outdoor entertaining area includes a firepit and outdoor lights so that gatherings can continue into the evening

The outdoor entertaining area includes a firepit and outdoor lights so that gatherings can continue into the evening

The kitchen has cream wall and base units along with a central island that is tiled and it contains some useful storage

The kitchen has cream wall and base units along with a central island that is tiled and it contains some useful storage

This large double bedroom has monochrome wallpaper, a dark wooden flooring and some furnishings providing a pink accent

This large double bedroom has monochrome wallpaper, a dark wooden flooring and some furnishings providing a pink accent

The average price of a price sold in St Leonards during the past year is £291,265, which is just under the £312,201 average for the country as a whole, according to Zoopla.

Helen Whiteley, of property website OnTheMarket, said: ‘Properties like this don’t come to the market too often, so when they do it’s an opportunity to own something really special.

‘As well as a magnificent history dating back almost 200 years, with its original charm and unique interior, this clock house has a level of grandeur that remains as impressive today as it would have been when first constructed.’

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!