What are the crazy plans of MBS, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia?

What are the crazy plans of MBS, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia?

Mohammed bin Salman’s latest projects aim to free his kingdom from black gold, diversify its economy and build a visionary future

The “New Muraba”, Prince Salman’s latest craze

Last February, we uncovered the latest titanic project from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia: the “New Murabba,” a new urban entity designed to double the population of Riyadh, now estimated at nearly 8 million people. Under the program, the kingdom’s architects plan to build 25 million square kilometers of land, 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, 980,000 square meters of commercial space, 1.4 million square meters of offices, 620,000 square meters of leisure facilities and 1.8 million square meters of community facilities.

At the center of this huge project in the heart of Riyadh will be the heart: the “Mukaab”. This building is undoubtedly reminiscent of the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, located in the holy city of Mecca. According to the American press, this giant cube, which will be 400m wide, high and long, promises to be 20 times the size of the Empire State Building. Inside this cube, everything is done in such a way that there is no need to leave it. In particular, there will be two million square meters of commercial, cultural and tourist attractions. The state doesn’t hesitate to exaggerate by including dragons and ships in the promotional video for this gigantic cube. After all, the “New Murabba” is part of the plan Saudi Vision 2030 and joins the previous urban planning project “Neom”.

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“Neom”, between excess and controversy

Neom is being built on the shores of the Red Sea, on the border between Jordan and Egypt, in the province of Tabuk. This pharaonic urban project bills itself as the “Accelerator of Human Progress.” It is an answer to Silicon Valley and will be divided into four locations: Sindalah, Oxagon, Trojena and The Line. With a total area of ​​26,000 m2, Neom aims to create an image for MBS as an Arab leader, builder and visionary. In the middle of the desert, four thriving locations are revealed, modern and organized thanks to artificial intelligence. With flying taxis, drone deliveries, wind farms and vertical farming, Neom has something to amaze you. The Crown Prince also assures that this project will be environmentally conscious and will rely solely on renewable energy once completed.

These cities, which are part of MBS’ vision for the future, “Saudi Vision 2030 “There will be four: Trojena, which will peak at 2000m above sea level and is set to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games. Secondly, Sindalah is a luxurious man-made island project designed to attract even more tourists. But also Oxagon, a floating city project in the shape of an octagon. Finally, at first sight it is certainly the most futuristic city: The Line, a series of two skyscrapers facing each other and covered with mirrors, where a city full of innovations will emerge.

This gigantic construction site and the promise of zero-emission cities is a slur in the eyes of many geologists, urban planners and experts who see it as a huge cost in fossil and human materials. In addition, the project would entail exorbitant costs of 500 billion euros, foreign investors, especially American and Arab, would participate in the financing a priori. While Riyadh will list 5% of Aramco, the Saudi state-owned hydrocarbon company, to cover construction costs.

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Revolutionize your country

Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s goal is to diversify his country’s economy, which is 70% dependent on sales of its oil. Although this black gold is the source of the immense wealth of his rulers, the prince knows that this energy will not keep the kingdom alive for the future. His goal is therefore to lead Saudi Arabia out of its archaism. It has been criticized in many ways. Let’s not forget that this Gulf country is one of the countries where Sharia law applies. Homosexuality is violent religious radicalism, subjugating women and all sectarian excesses, always punishable by death.

However, MBS is playing a double game here: on the other hand, it has made new concessions for women: they are now allowed to drive cars and vote if they have a university degree. Since the country’s population is predominantly young, the prince allows the organization of large concerts of international stars, as Justin Bieber did on the occasion of a festival. The creation of music festivals, museums, a Formula 1 Grand Prix with a team that carries the country’s image. However, certain things are forbidden if one follows the radical reading of the Koran.

However, all these projects allow attracting foreign investment, tourism and the image of the country. The prince seized the power of “soft power,” the hallmark of the old rich countries of the West. In the newspaper challenges, an expatriate admits his feelings towards the capital, Riyadh: “There is more cocaine, alcohol and whores there than in Southern California.” However, this trend towards economic diversification can also be found in other Gulf countries: Abu Dhabi with culture, Qatar with sport or Dubai with luxury tourism. However, MBS remains the most disruptive, ambitious and visionary company. For now, he’s still enjoying the power of his oil to maintain edifying relationships with the American and European powers that cast an eye on him.

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