Doug Specht speaks to MIT Technology Review about Saudi Arabia’s ‘sci-fi’ megacity

13 December 2022

In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced that the country would build a new city. This city, dubbed ‘the line’ would be 170 kilometre long and half a kilometre high but just 200 meters wide. Doug Specht spoke to MIT Technology Review about satellite images, how they are collected, stored and distributed.

MIT Technology Review state that the satellite images used in their article to analyse the progress of the city build were hard to obtain, and speculated – along with some scholars – that underhand tactics being used to keep such imagery out of the public domain. Specht however was less convinced, stating that  “My immediate reaction is that no one bothered with high resolution [images before now] because it’s in the middle of a desert and high-resolution imagery is incredibly expensive to own and distribute.” He also notes that now the area is of more interest as work progresses, there will likely be much more imagery made available from numerous actors. This was a view corroborated by Stephen Wood, senior director of Maxar’s news bureau, told MIT Technology Review:  “We do not have any recent high-resolution imagery that has been collected over these areas” because the company primarily focuses on its customers’ areas of interest.

The full article can be read on MIT Technology Review.


Photo by backer Sha on Unsplash

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