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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - How eight mega-projects are transforming Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh into a global destination
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is paving the road for a better future by implementing transformative projects across the Kingdom. These projects aim to integrate advanced technologies and sustainable practices, ultimately enhancing the standard of living and quality of life for residents.
These projects, including Sports Boulevard, New Murabba, Qiddiya, and King Salman Park, are part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
They are designed to create sustainable and innovative urban spaces, promote sports and recreational activities, enhance cultural and heritage sites, and provide entertainment and leisure options for residents and visitors.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is paving the road for a better future by implementing transformative projects across the Kingdom. These projects aim to integrate advanced technologies and sustainable practices, ultimately enhancing the standard of living and quality of life for residents.
These projects, including Sports Boulevard, New Murabba, Qiddiya, and King Salman Park, are part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. They are designed to create sustainable and innovative urban spaces, promote sports and recreational activities, enhance cultural and heritage sites, and provide entertainment and leisure options for residents and visitors.
Sports Boulevard is the world’s largest linear park, stretching more than 135 km. It encompasses an investment area of 2.3 million sq m and features 4.4 million sq m of green and open spaces.
The park will be home to 50 sports facilities, making it a popular destination for a wide range of visitors, including pedestrians, cyclists (both professional and amateur), horse riders, art and culture enthusiasts, and individuals who prioritize eco-friendly activities. The park’s pathways and spaces have been carefully designed to encourage and support a healthy lifestyle.
Sports Boulevard in Riyadh is divided into eight distinct districts, each characterized by its distinctive design and accompanied by pathways and trails, providing a one-of-a-kind experience.
These districts include Wadi Hanifah, Wadi Al-Yasin, Wadi Al-Sulai, Arts District, Entertainment District, Athletics District, Eco District, and Sand Sports Park. Together, they offer an opportunity to promote healthy living and provide a diverse range of entertainment options in a modern and appealing manner.
Big enough to hold 20 Empire State buildings, the New Murabba is set to be the biggest contemporary downtown in Riyadh, thereby supporting the city’s future growth according to the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
The New Murabba aims to incorporate the concept of sustainability by including green spaces and dedicated paths for walking and cycling. These measures are designed to enhance overall well-being by promoting healthy and active lifestyles and fostering community engagement.
Additionally, the project will feature a museum, a state-of-the-art technology and design university, a versatile immersive theater, and more than 80 destinations for entertainment and cultural activities.
The development in northwest Riyadh, at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads, will cover 19 sq km and provide housing for residents. It will include more than 25 million sq m of floor space, including residential units, hotel rooms and retail space. There will also be office space, recreational facilities and community amenities. The New Murabba development aims to offer a convenient lifestyle with living, working, and entertainment options within a 15-minute distance. It will have its own transportation network and be a 20-minute drive from the airport.
The Qiddiya project aims to become a groundbreaking city globally renowned for offering the most imaginative and captivating experiences. Qiddiya strives to create a thriving and enjoyable city centered around entertainment, sports and culture.
It is creating numerous exciting attractions, including theme parks suitable for families. These sports arenas can host international competitions, sports and arts academies, concert venues, racetracks for motorsport enthusiasts, and outdoor adventure activities that offer experiences with nature and the environment. Qiddiya will also provide various real estate options and community services.
The 32-hectare site will include 28 rides and attractions across six different themed areas. The 4 km Falcon’s Flight rollercoaster ride will be the centerpiece of the park, and will touch speeds of 250 km an hour and includes a dive of 160 m.
But the rollercoaster is just a small part of the Qiddiya giga-project, which will include arts centers, festival grounds, a sports stadium, shops and restaurants, housing developments, a motor racing circuit and a golf course designed by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.
King Salman Park
King Salman Park is being constructed on more than 16 sq km of land, making it the largest urban park in the world. The park will offer diverse activities and options for residents and visitors of the city. Its environmental elements will significantly increase vegetation in the region and provide more per capita green spaces.
Green areas and open spaces will cover more than 9.3 million sq m, including an Islamic-style garden, a vertical garden, a maze garden, and a bird and butterfly sanctuary. These gardens span more than 400,000 sq m, with a circular pedestrian walkway extending for 7.2 km, a valley area of more than 800,000 sq m, and 300,000 sq m of water features.
The park’s Royal Art Complex will include a national theater with a seating capacity of 2,500, five museums, an outdoor theater accommodating 8,000 audience members, a complex with three cinema halls, four art academies, and an educational center for children.
The sports and entertainment facilities will feature a 850,000 sq m royal golf course, a virtual reality court, a skydiving center, an equestrian center, and running and biking routes.
Diriyah, the historical birthplace of Saudi Arabia, is a treasure trove of more than 30 cultural establishments, including museums and academies. It takes visitors on a captivating journey through the Kingdom’s vibrant history and offers many opportunities to engage with contemporary art.
Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage site, gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in captivating performances, interactive exhibitions, educational trails and advanced technologies that together help to showcase Diriyah’s past.
The Old Town features an art district that includes galleries, workspaces and creatively designed residences, while the Period Village recreates a 300-year-old local lifestyle, complete with bustling markets, artisanal shops, workshops, and delectable traditional cuisines.
The Jax district in Diriyah brings together talented professionals and aspiring artists to express the essence of life through vibrant colors. Their captivating creations are on display throughout the area.
As visitors explore the district, they encounter an array of installations in hallways and public spaces that offer an incredible visual and sensory experience and immerse them in the world of contemporary art.
The district also plays a significant role in promoting art and culture in Diriyah. In 2021 and 2022, it was home to the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, which hosted the Kingdom’s first international contemporary art biennale, in Riyadh. The event attracted artists and enthusiasts from around the world, further solidifying the Jax district’s reputation as a prominent cultural destination.
King Abdullah Financial District
Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District is a thriving hub that embodies the vision of the late ruler it is named after for the creation of a prosperous financial center. Aligned with the goals Vision 2030, the district contributes to the expansion and diversification of the Kingdom’s economy, while also providing a dynamic environment within the community.
Its impressive buildings, inspired by the local natural landscape, have reshaped the Riyadh skyline. They offer state-of-the-art office facilities and sustainable smart city solutions that empower businesses to thrive.
Additionally, the district contains exceptional recreational and retail amenities designed to help provide a distinctive lifestyle experience. Through its remarkable architecture and vibrant atmosphere, it is a symbol of economic growth and community vitality.
The Diplomatic Quarter, also known as Al-Safarat, is a vibrant area that houses embassies, residential complexes, and a wide variety of dining options. It is also home to important cultural sites, including Tuwaiq Palace, with its unique tent-like structures and panoramic views of Wadi Hanifa.
The Cultural Center, meanwhile, is a spacious two-story building with a large celebration hall, an auditorium equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and a partially covered outdoor area for performances and other celebrations.
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