What is Saudi Arabia Next Mega-Project Mukaab?

Riyadh’s latest mega-project defies all conventional architectural wisdom. The Mukaab, a 400 metre high cube city, will be one of the largest structures ever erected – large enough to house 20 Empire State Buildings!

Designers claim it will be “the world’s first immersive, experiential destination”, offering stunning environments with digital and virtual technology. Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, this project is expected to add $50 billion to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy while creating 334,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Cube

Experience an unprecedented hospitality journey powered by digital and virtual technology at New Murabba, a 19 square kilometer development located in Riyadh’s downtown area. This 400 metre cube will serve as the focal point of this innovative development.

The cube is part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to diversify away from oil exports and develop local industries. It joins other mega-projects like Neom, a $500 billion futuristic city featuring robot maids, flying taxis and an artificial moon funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund as part of their Vision 2030 strategy to promote tourism and develop local industries.

The cube has already caused some social media controversy, with some users comparing its appearance to that of Mecca’s Holy Kaaba prayer hall. Others have criticized its construction as being too obvious and suggesting MBS has a capitalist bias.

The Iconic Destination

Saudi Arabia is renowned for its ambitious plans to transform cities and landscapes. As part of their post-oil diversification plan, Vision 2030, they are building a series of mega projects which aim to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons while increasing non-oil GDP.

The Kingdom’s latest mega-project, The Mukaab, will be a landmark that will define Riyadh’s skyline. Inspired by modern Najdi architecture with an avant-garde twist, this structure will be known as The Mukaab.

Riyadh’s New Murabba district is set to become the world’s largest modern downtown. This development includes a museum, technology and design university, multipurpose immersive theatre and 80 entertainment and cultural venues.

The project is part of the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s comprehensive strategy outlined in MbS’ Vision 2030. It is anticipated to add SAR180 billion (PS40 billion) to non-oil GDP and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The World’s First Immersive Destination

Saudi Arabia, which has been the subject of negative media for decades, is embarking on an extensive diversification program to reduce its dependence on oil and raise its international profile. At the same time, it seeks to shed its image as a closed-off, conservative state.

Saudi Vision 2030 includes several large-scale mega-projects that have been criticised by some Western and Arab media due to their environmental impact and potential human rights abuses. These initiatives will be funded by the Public Investment Fund.

One such project, New Murabba, a 19 square kilometer area northwest of Riyadh, will contain 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, 980,000 square metres of retail space and 1.4 million square metres of office space. Furthermore, there will be green areas for walking or cycling as well as more than 80 entertainment and cultural venues.

The Future of Tourism

Saudi Arabia has an ambitious vision for tourism as a major economic driver. By 2030, they aim to make this sector the second-most significant industry after hydrocarbons, contributing 10% of their national GDP.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, KSA’s travel sector is expected to experience an average growth rate of 11% annually over the next decade. This could provide a substantial boost to the economy with an anticipated 17.1% share of GDP by 2032.

Recently, Saudi Arabia has unveiled an exciting calendar of travel events, sports and festivals that have attracted global attention and visitors to the Kingdom. Racing fans were treated to Formula One Grand Prix from Jeddah and Dakar Rally’s scenic desert route; art lovers attended Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale; design connoisseurs descended upon Saudi Design Festival for its inaugural edition.

Saudi leadership has invested heavily in tourism and culture as a strategic means of global positioning, cultivating an iconic cultural output to serve their nationalism. Investments such as film, fashion, theater, culinary arts projects have helped shape the Kingdom’s cultural profile away from Islam towards one more publicly engaged with urban development issues.