During a pivotal scene in the film Syriana, an American energy analyst, played by Matt Damon, warns a young Saudi Arabian royal, played by Alexander Siddig, about the finite nature of his country’s oil resources, and about how his country’s failure to diversify its economy risks a future of geopolitical irrelevance and poverty. Although it would be presumptuous to assume the scene a call-to-action, there is a growing movement among business elites across the Middle East to expand not only its economy beyond oil, but also to construct alternative modes of living that embraces non-reliance on fossil fuels.
Inspired by the Egyptian pyramids and the temple towers of the Mesopotamian valley, Dubai-based environmental design company Timelinks recently submitted plans to construct the Ziggurat pyramid, a pioneering building that hopes to house 1 million individuals.
In addition to the sheer number of people the Ziggurat plans to accommodate, the building also aims to generate all of its energy from renewable resources, be carbon-neutral, and incorporate the surrounding environment seamlessly. The following is a summarized list of features:
• Covers 2.3 square kilometers (0.88 square miles).
• Utilizes solar, steam, wind and other natural resources.
• Includes plenty of green spaces for recreation and agriculture.
• Runs an efficient horizontal and vertical public transportation system.
• Uses 10% of land surface that a normal one million person city would need.
• Will integrate facial recognition technology for security purposes.
Although the feasibility of the Ziggurat has been called into question, Timelink’s design nonetheless represents an important shift in the architectural ambitions of the region; Dubai and Qatar are two countries heavily invested in sustainable architecture and energy-efficient mega structures.
Whereas the pyramids of the past were reserved exclusively for ritualistic burial, religious ceremony, and in honor of deceased royals, Timelink’s Ziggurat calls for a reimagined and forward thinking Middle Eastern landscape and economy.