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Trojena winter resort aims to be Neom’s inaugural site

The lake planned for the Trojena development, which will be built by Italian company Webuild Supplied/Neom
The lake planned for the Trojena development, which will be built by Italian company Webuild
  • 2027 opening before 2029 Winter Games
  • Trojena hotels to open in same year
  • Pressure builds ahead of 2030 deadline

The Saudi winter resort of Trojena will be completed and ready to open in 2027 ahead of the 2029 Asian Winter Games, a spokesman said this week, making it the first project inside the futuristic city Neom to come online. 

Developers are under pressure to finish the giga-projects at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s economic expansion plans ahead of a nominal deadline of 2030

The government said in December some projects could be delayed, caused by a slowdown in oil prices, high interest rates and lower than expected levels of foreign direct investment. 

“We have the Asian Winter Games in 2029 but it will be done before that. Our one-phase development will have it done by 2027,” Clark Williams, marketing and communications director of Trojena, told AGBI while speaking at an industry event in Cannes last week. 

The luxury Raffles hotel said last month it would open inside one of six Trojena clusters in 2027, the first such announcement. 

“We’re not waiting for investments, we’re actually building it. When people can see the scale of what we’re trying to do then there’s believability. We’re not just talking about it but doing it,” Williams said. 

Italian construction company Webuild said in January it had won a $4.7 billion infrastructure development contract for Trojena, including three dams to create a 2.8 km-long freshwater lake – the largest man-made body of water in the kingdom.  

The master plan by German design studio Lava also includes a hotel and residential area called the Bow and an entrance called the Vault, also constructed by Webuild. 

The site, at 1,500 to 2,600 metres above sea level, is cold in winter but does not produce enough snow to sustain a winter resort on its own. However, it does have the right temperatures to produce effective snow via snow machines, Williams said. 

“We have the temperatures,” he said. “We’ve done temperature reporting and we know what the temperatures are. We need -3C for good snow to use in snow guns, but we also have all weather snow-making and I don’t need any temperature to make that.” 

This means that of 36km of ski slopes, 12km will be available in the summer months. “When you see the scale of what we’re trying to do it hits home,” Williams said. 

If the Asian Winter Games go well, Saudi Arabia could make a bid for a future Winter Olympics. The country is hosting the World Expo 2030 in Riyadh and the football World Cup in 2034

Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, said concerns about the climate change impact of Trojena were just as relevant for other winter sport destinations around the world, which often create their own snow too. 

“There are questions of whether it snows enough and if the methods for generating snow are further degrading the natural environment,” Chadwick said.

“But these are questions that need to be asked of the entire winter sports industry.”

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