The city of Riyadh is being completely transformed by 8 mega projects, all part of the Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to create sustainable and innovative urban spaces, promote sports and recreational activities, enhance cultural and heritage sites, as well as provide entertainment and leisure options for residents and visitors alike.
All built around the concept of sustainability and integrating the latest available technologies, similar to other projects included in the Vision 2030 plan, the aim is to complete them by 2030, in time for Saudi Arabia to host the World Expo.
1. New Murabba
New Murabba will be a completely new district in Riyadh’s downtown, planning to house hundreds of thousands of residents. The new district will feature a museum, a technology and design university, a multipurpose immersive theatre, and more than 80 entertainment and cultural venues.
Over 25 million km² of floor area will be split between 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, 980,000 sqm of retail space, 1.4 million sqm of office space, 620,000 sqm of leisure assets and 1.8 million sqm of community facilities.
The highlight of New Murabba will be the Mukaab, a cube shaped skyscraper, 400 meters high, 400 meters wide and 400 meters long. The cubic shape is meant to ensure the ultimate utilization of space to accommodate the technologies necessary to develop the building. When completed, it will be one of the largest built structures in the world and aims to be “the world’s first immersive destination offering an experience created by digital, virtual and the latest holographic technologies”, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) informed in a statement.
2. Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City
The Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City project was launched in 2021 for contributing to achieving the goals of Misk in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship while nurturing future leaders. The city will host the Misk Foundation and its subsidiaries, schools, academies, local and international institutions and entrepreneurs.
The 3.4 km² district will be a smart, 15-minute city with modern and integrated urban transport and smart and sustainable cooling and shading systems. The city will also provide a platform to experience new products and technologies and interactive retail environments, as well as having the capacity to house 18,000 residents in 6,000 apartments and 500 villas and townhouses.
Founded in 1446, Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010, houses the historic quarters of Al-Turaif, the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2023, Saudi authorities announced a €57 billion ‘giga project’ meant to transform Diriyah into a city.
The Diriyah Project is expected to show the world 300 years of Saudi Arabian history. Tourists will have the opportunity to explore and learn about the nation’s history and culture in museums and pavilions that will be built.
The new giga project is set to stimulate strategic domestic sectors, create partnerships with the local private sector and generate new investment opportunities throughout its development and production phases. In these stages, the government hopes to involve sectors such as hotel construction, operation and management, retail, entertainment and culture.
Launched in 2018, Qiddiya is a global entertainment, sports and culture hub in the making. With construction having begun in 2019, it will offer international sports arenas, concert and entertainment venues, academies for sports and arts, racetracks, outdoor and adventure activities and family-friendly theme parks – including a Six Flags park with the world’s longest, tallest and fastest coaster.
The 367 km² site will have 5 key areas: the resort core, home to Qiddiya’s theme parks, entertainment and dining attractions; the Qiddiya Village, a 24/7 mixed-use centre dedicated to entertainment and sports; the motion zone, home to adrenaline fuelled motorsports experiences; the eco zone, a world of nature and wildlife adventures and encounters; and the golf and residential community, a community featuring golf courses and residential offerings.
5. Diplomatic Quarter
The Diplomatic Quarter, or Al-Safarat, is an 8 km² vibrant area that houses diplomatic missions and residential complexes, as well as a cultural centre, sports facilities and a mosque. Around 85 embassies are currently located in the district, although the site has the capacity to accommodate up to 120.
Overlooked by a mosque, the 6,080 m² Al-Kindi Plaza is situated between the two main boulevards dividing the Diplomatic Quarter into two almost equal parts. The plaza was designed to preserve the traditional bond between mosque and other public spaces. The two-floor Cultural Centre occupies an area of 12,000 m². It has a hall for celebrations with a capacity of 1,000 attendees and an auditorium equipped with 634 seats, modern visual and audio systems and multilingual simultaneous interpretation system.
6. King Abdullah Financial District
King Abdullah’s Financial District is bound to redefine Riyadh’s urban landscape. A cosmopolitan living and working space, it comprises 83 buildings with several high-rise towers and skyscrapers. “It’s a real city within the city. A huge contrast between Saudi architectural identity and modern architecture”, architect Deema Elkassim described the district for Travel Tomorrow.
The buildings’ planning and positioning was inspired by the traditional architecture in Diriyah, guiding the desert wind and sun through the district in an optimal way, creating a temperature drop of 8-10 degrees and thus a pleasant outdoor environment.
The district houses the Al-Faisaliah Complex and Tower, the latter being the first skyscraper built in Saudi Arabia. At 267 metres high with 55 floors, Al-Faisaliah Tower is topped by the Globe, a spectacular golden sphere offering panoramic views of the city. Within this dramatic three-storey dome, modern European cuisine and world-class service come together to create an unmatched, fine dining experience, making it one of the most sought-after restaurants in Riyadh.
7. Sports Boulevard
The Sports Boulevard will connect the city from east to west, extending for 135 kilometres and will include over 4.4 million metres² of greenery and open spaces, cycling tracks and horseback riding trails, in addition to jogging pathways and sports and cultural centres.
The boulevard will be comprised of 8 different districts, each representing an individual design.
7.1. Wadi Hanifah District
The Wadi Hanifah District covers a distance of 29.5 km, from Al Madina Al Munawwarah Road (south) to Al Olab Dam (north), passing through the Diriyah Gate. The district features various tracks and paths and several service stations, in addition to several investment zones.
7.2. Arts District
The Arts District covers a distance of 5.5 km, from the Diriyah region (west) to Suwaid bin Harthah Road (east), and includes a number of tracks, stops and stations, as well as art buildings and spaces for workshops and cultural and artistic performances.
7.3. Wadi Alyasen District
The Wadi Alyasen District covers a distance of 4.5 km, from Suwaid bin Harthah Road (west) to Ar Rub Al-Khali Road (east), including a water canal – the area is surrounded by land set out for private investment, as well as multiple paths and water facilities.
7.4. Entertainment District
The Entertainment District covers a distance of 3 km, from Ar Rub Al-Khali Road (west) to Abi Baker As Siddiq Road (east), and features paths, a bicycle station, along with a number of recreational areas and an arts complex.
7.5. Athletics District
The Athletics District covers a distance of 4 km, from Abu Baker As Siddiq Road (west) to Airport Road (east), including a sports tower, a number of sports courts and fields and a water canal, in addition to service stations for visitors and spaces for investment.
7.6. Eco District
The Eco District covers a distance of 15 km, from Airport Road (west) to Al Janadriyah Road (east), including cultivation areas and greenhouses, alongside picnic spots, tracks and multiple stations.
7.7. Wadi Al Sulai District
The Wadi Al Sulai District covers a distance of 53km, from King Fahad Stadium (south) to King Salman Park in Banban (north), including tracks and pathways, a number of service stations and spaces for investment purposes.
7.8. Sands Sports Park
The Sands Sports Park covers an area of 20 km², located in the sandy region of King Khalid International Airport (southeast). The area features mountainous and sandy trails, a resort, an equestrian centre with an area of 1 million m² and a track for horse riders and pedestrians, as well as a number of service stations and spaces for investment.
8. King Salman Park
Launched in, King Salman Park sits at the heart of Riyadh and is planned to be the largest urban park in the world. The over 16 km² park has more than 11 km² of green spaces, a circular pedestrian path about 7 km long, 5 train stations and 10 bus stations.
Besides encouraging visitors to reconnect with nature, the park will also be a centre of arts and culture, encompassing exhibitions, a theatre and a cinema, as well as one for sports and wellness, made possible by facilities that suit various hobbies and arenas that can accommodate thousands of fans. Education will also be promoted through specialized institutes and an abundance of training opportunities that “build skills and unleash creativity”.