Saudi Arabia announces 1,300ft cube mall and entertainment space

Saudi Arabia unveils plans for 1,300ft cube shopping mall and entertainment venue using holographic technology to immerse visitors in fantasy virtual worlds

  • New Saudi megaproject promises to bring life to quiet area in capital of Riyadh
  • ‘New Murabba’ is the latest huge project announced for the Saudi Vision 2030 

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build a colossal 1,300ft (400m) cube shopping centre in its capital.

Developers are planning to build the New Murabba project at the heart of a seven mile (19km) area in the northwest of Riyadh, welcoming hundreds of thousands of residents to facilities that include 80 entertainment and culture venues, 9,000 hotel rooms and 3.2mn square feet (980,000 sqm) of retail space.

Its designers claim the world’s largest downtown will ‘offer a unique living, working entertainment experience within a 15-minute walking radius and will have its own internal transport system’, with visitors stunned by the latest in immersive holographic technology. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia looks to diversify its economy and add sustainable projects and cities to its roster, currently dependent on oil for 80% of its export income.

Depictions show futuristic buildings surrounded by new plants and vegetation near the capital

The project is expected to make full use of holographic imagery and sci-fi decoration to bring shoppers and residents a unique experience as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 to attract tourists

Buildings made in the modern Najdi architectural style would not be out of place in Star Wars

The Mukaab landmark shopping centre at its core is planned to reinvent the region (above) with green areas and walking and cycle paths, ‘promoting healthy, active lifestyles and community activities’.

At 1,300ft tall, its designers claim it could fit 20 Empire State Buildings (1,250ft to roof; 1,454ft to tip) inside.

Promotional videos show renderings of an immersive virtual reality, with dragons and huge holographic people moving through the development.

Surrounded by a cube structure, the inner spiral is seen to have the capability to display realistic images around the building.

Renderings show spacecraft flying overhead, huge mountain ranges and towering waterfalls all projected onto the sleepy desert scene.

A promotional video claims everything within the city will be accessible within a 15 minute walk, as other major cities turn their attention to the controversial ’15-minute city’ concept.

Critics in Europe have warned that such cities would not be compatible with cars, making city movement difficult for emergency services.

But the Saudi project, a 20-minute drive from the nearest airport, plans to accommodate for drivers where needed too.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is also Prime Minister and Chairman of the NMDC, announced the project on Thursday, which a statement said would contribute to the city’s plans to develop a range of economic sectors by 2030.

It is estimated it would add SAR180 billion (£39.9bn) to non-oil GDP. 

A holographic dragon is seen flying around renderings of mountains by the internal structure

Huge streets welcome tourists and domestic guests for shopping, work and living 

Entertainment venues for all purposes are imagined in the bid to attract new kinds of visitors

Drawings show how the sustainable project could look after its completion date in 2030

The megaproject promises everything will still be within a 15-minute walk for visitors

Futuristic hovering ships are imagined around the main spiral as part of the holographic decor

Saudi Arabia, with one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, is planning a number of so-called megaprojects intended to reinvent its economy.

The planned smart city of Neom in northwest Saudi Arabia was announced by the Crown Prince in October 2017, also as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 to reduce oil dependence, diversify the economy and build up public service sectors.

The ambitious project would be powered exclusively by wind and solar power and is estimated to cost $500bn.

Critics have noted that only two buildings had been built by July 2022, ahead of the first phase completion date penned for 2025.

In January 2021, plans were unveiled for a 110 mile (170km) long, 660ft (200 metre) wide, linear city – ‘The Line’ – running through the region.

All basic services are expected to be within a five-minute walking distance for nine million residents.

The project has drawn criticism for its data-collection surveillance technology and for sentencing to death people who were forcibly evicted and displaced to make way for the project.

Amnesty International noted that the Saudi Vision 2030 was enabled by a large-scale demolition and eviction plan which impacted half a million people in Jeddah alone, violation international human rights standards and discriminating against foreign nationals.

Saudi Arabia is also investing in AMAALA, an upcoming sustainable megaproject of 2,500 hotel rooms and 200 retail shops, aiming to attract tourists to the Red Sea coast.

A number of cultural sites will also receive investment as the country looks to attract international tourists as part of its diversification move.

The Saudi Vision 2030 includes attracting 27 million domestic and foreign tourists. 

Image shows illusion of underwater dining in the middle of the Saudi desert using holo tech

Image shows what the holograms could look like, towering over shoppers and residents

Daytime renderings show just how green the revived area is planned to become 

The core building at the heart of the project is divided into five key attraction complexes

From a distance, drawings show the sheer scale of the building near Riyadh’s airport

Image shows an artist rendering of the proposed cube, which would give locals access to entertainment, residence and office space in the north west of the capital city of Riyadh

A spiralling tower would sit within the Mukaab cube on the outskirts of the capital city

Rendering shows the shopping centre and entertainment complex near Riyadh city

Artist depictions show the centre between the King Khalid Road and the King Salman Road (named after a former and the incumbent king of Saudi Arabia respectively) in Riyadh transformed into a sprawling metropolitan paradise.

The intersection on the outskirts of the city is currently surrounded by thousands of residential units, boxed in by the Diriah Hills to the west.

The hills are an attraction to tourists and hikers and sit near the Al-Alb Dam, one of the quietest agricultural and urban areas in Saudi Arabia according to its developers.

The New Murabba project is expected to be completed by 2030. 

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