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Saudi Arabia plans for ‘world’s largest downtown’ in Riyadh

The project's centerpiece, a 400-meter cube, will feature both traditional Arabic design elements and futuristic technology.
The Mukaab plan

Saudi Arabia’s New Murabba Development Company (NMDC) plans to build what it’s dubbing as the world’s largest modern downtown area in northwest Riyadh, announced the country’s government news agency on Thursday. 

The New Murabba, or square in Arabic, project is expected to be a sustainable smart city. 

Homing in on sustainable neighborhoods, it anticipates offering residents in every part of the city access to living, work, and entertainment spaces within a 15-minute walking radius. 

These accessible living spaces will have public transportation connecting 100,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, and also dedicated community facilities. 

The plan aims to add about 334,000 jobs and $48 billion in non-oil income to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2030, valued at $833.54 billion in 2021 according to the World Bank. 

Looking to make the project iconic, it’s adding The Mukaab (the cube in Arabic), an advanced technological structure planned to be 400 meters long, wide, and high.

It would be able to hold 20 of New York’s trademark Empire State buildings, Saudi's Public Investment Fund said. 

The edifice will use modernized styles of traditional Al Najd architecture, it added, mimicking elements of historic Saudi riverside villages with compact clusters of dwellings separated by narrow roads, which protect people from the heat of the glaring sun, described real estate marketing platform Bayut Saudi Arabia

One Twitter user identified the structure’s similarity to the kingdom’s Kaaba, Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca, due to its cubic shape. 

According to its simulated animation video, The Mukaab will be anything but traditional, characterized as an immersive experiential destination with drones flying around a giant spire with futuristic elevator pods reminiscent of the 1960s American futuristic animated sitcom, The Jetsons. 

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