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New Riyadh downtown could add $48bn to Saudi’s non-oil GDP

city, riyadh, gold PIF
The 'Mukaab', a 400sq m immersive destination cube structure, will be at the heart of the Riyadh development
  • 19 sq km development is due for completion by 2030
  • Offer residential areas, hotels and retail and office space
  • Focus will be the ‘Mukaab’ interactive entertainment destination

Plans have been revealed to develop the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh. It is forecast to add SAR180 billion ($48 billion) to Saudia Arabia’s non-oil GDP and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Situated in the north west of Riyadh, and spread over 19 sq km, the development will offer more than 25 million sq m of floor area. It will feature over 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms and in excess of 980,000 sq m of retail space.

It will also include 1.4 million sq m of office space, 620,000 sq m of leisure assets, and 1.8 million sq m of space dedicated to community facilities.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz announced the project, which is due for completion in 2030. He will chair the New Murabba Development Company (NMDC), which will oversee the development.

NMDC is part of the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund’s (PIF’s) strategy “to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors, enable the private sector and increase local content, contribute to the development of real estate projects and the local infrastructure, and diversify sources of income for the Saudi economy.”

At the heart of the Riyadh development will be “Mukaab”, a 400sq m immersive destination cube structure.

Taking inspiration from the modern Najdi architecture, Mukaab will use digital and virtual technology as well as the latest holographics. It will be made up of a tower on top of a spiral base, and a structure featuring 2 million sq m of floor space.

The premium hospitality destination will offer retail, cultural and tourist attractions, along with residential and hotel units, commercial spaces and recreational facilities.

“The New Murabba project will be built around the concept of sustainability, featuring green areas and walking and cycling paths that will enhance the quality of life by promoting healthy, active lifestyles and community activities,” the statement added.

It will also feature a museum, technology and design university, multipurpose immersive theatre, and more than 80 entertainment and culture venues.

The kingdom has ambitions to double the size and population of its capital city with total investments of some $800 billion under its Vision 2030 plan to modernise the Gulf Arab state and diversify the economy to wean it off oil export revenues.

Saudi Arabia has put in a bid to host the Expo 2030 world fair. The host country is expected to be selected in November, and Riyadh is competing with Italy’s Rome, South Korea’s Busan and Ukraine’s Odesa.