flying dragons and space capsules. What changes Saudi Arabia plans to make to its capital

With its floating rocks, flying dragons, and space pods, it resembles a metropolis from a science fiction film. But Saudi Arabia, the country that gave rise to Islam, aims to make its capital one of “the most livable cities on Earth.”

According to a Friday statement from the sovereign wealth fund, the monarchy is developing a new downtown in its capital, Riyadh. The “New Murabba” (new square) project, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), aims to enlarge the capital by almost 19 square kilometers (4,695 acres), allowing for the housing of tens of thousands of people.

The “Mukaab,” the project’s centerpiece, is a cube that is 400 meters (1,312 feet) high, 400 meters wide, and 400 meters long—enough space to fit 20 Empire State buildings. According to Public Investment Fund (PIF), the $620 billion sovereign wealth fund overseen by MBS, it provides “an immersive experience” with settings varying from space to lush vistas. In 2030, the project is scheduled to be finished.

Holographic technology aims to give customers “a new reality” while they buy and eat. Along with hotels and residences, the structure also houses recreational facilities.

Saudi Arabia has started an ambitious endeavor to diversify its economy away from oil and erase its reputation as a conservative, closed-off state. Saudi Arabia has received negative coverage for decades owing to human rights breaches.

According to Andreas Krieg, research fellow at the King’s College London Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, “Back in the day, you would have unfavorable talks about Saudi Arabia associated with human rights abuses.” However, they are currently making an effort to promote new narratives about themselves as a developed nation capable of creating cutting-edge cities.

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However, some observers claim that Saudi Arabia faces significant regional competition from its neighbor Dubai and the capital of Qatar, Doha, both of which have attempted for decades to establish themselves as major regional business and tourism destinations.

Simon Henderson, head of the Gulf and Energy Policy program at The Washington Institute, noted that coming in second position in a race is never an easy place to start when trying to overtake the winner. He continued by saying that Saudi Arabia is particularly challenged because “they’ve spent decades not inviting international, non-Muslim guests.”

Some people, however, have questioned if the project will ever be completed. Similar megaprojects have previously been announced by Saudi Arabia, but progress has been slow.

06-0 Saudi Arabia’s neom
Future or fictitious? Saudi Arabia’s 106-mile-long one-building city had its designs released.
MBS unveiled his $500 billion Neom city in the country’s northwest in 2021, promising robot maids, flying taxis, and a massive artificial moon. Additionally, he unveiled the Line, a massive linear city that would have housed 9 million people and covered 106 miles, last year.

According to Saudi media, the kingdom already has a $800 billion plan to increase the size of the capital in the following ten years and make it into a regional cultural and commercial centre.

Dana Ahmed, a Gulf researcher for Amnesty International, tweeted, “The more bizarre and futuristic these projects grow, the more I can’t help but picture how much more dystopian everything surrounding them will be.”

Officials from Saudi Arabia have emphasized that the projects’ construction is proceeding as scheduled.

How much New Murabba will cost and how PIF intends to pay for it are also unknown.

When asked about the pricing and financing arrangements, PIF told CNN that it has not yet made any disclosures and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Some experts are dubious, claiming that the kingdom might not be able to raise enough money to realize its goals.

A general shot taken on December 19, 2021, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during Mdlbeast Soundstorm 2021.
Why one of the biggest raves in the world is taking place in the home of Islam
“All of this is not fully financially secure. To complete this project, they tried to attract a lot of foreign direct investments (FDI), according to Krieg, who added that the FDI may not have arrived as Riyadh had planned.

By the year 2030, Saudi Arabia wants to increase its FDI to 388 billion riyals ($103 billion). According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2022 World Investment report, the kingdom’s current FDI totals $19 billion as of 2021.

The cost of oil will also determine whether the kingdom can afford the project, according to Henderson.

He noted that the price of a barrel is currently in the low $80s and that the kingdom might require oil prices to surpass $100 in order to finance major national initiatives.

While some derided the new city and questioned its practicality, others drew attention to how strikingly similar its cubic skyscraper is to Mecca, the holiest location for Muslims.

Millions of Muslims undertake annual pilgrimages to the Kaaba, whose name shares a root with that of the modern Mukaab edifice, where billions of Muslims gather for prayer five times a day.

A journalist named Murtaza Hussain wrote, “Building a new Kaaba completely devoted to capitalism is a touch too on the nose.

earthquake in Syria-Turkey
Two weeks after the earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria, the number of fatalities increased even though Turkey had stopped conducting search and rescue operations in all but two of the impacted regions.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) of Turkey reported that as of Monday, there had been 41,156 fatalities.

Turkey stated on Sunday that it had stopped conducting searches everywhere but in the provinces of Kahramanmaraş and Hatay.

Currently, 47,088 people have died in Turkey and Syria combined.

Here is the most recent:

According to Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFA), Christian Atsu’s body was airlifted from Turkey and arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday night. When the coffin arrived in Accra, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana and a sizable military procession met it.
According to the region’s mayor, at least 80% of the buildings in Turkey’s Hatay province need to be renovated.
According to Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay, more than 105,000 buildings have been classified as collapsing, being severely damaged, or imminently collapsing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States will contribute an additional $100 million to help earthquake victims.
the summary
Netanyahu of Israel charges Iran with bombing a tanker in the Persian Gulf.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said on Sunday that Iran had attacked a tanker ship in the Persian Gulf, probably referring to the Campo Square, a building linked with Israel that suffered minor damage on February 10 according to its management business.

Background: On the evening of February 10, the Campo Square “was struck by an aerial item while in the Arabian Sea roughly 300 nautical miles off the borders of India and Oman,” according to a statement from the ship management business Eletson. Zodiac Maritime Ltd. informed CNN on Sunday that the ship “is owned by a Liberian business which is affiliated to the British company Zodiac Maritime Ltd. Eyal Ofer, the company’s chairman, is an Israeli citizen.
Why it matters: A ship connected to Israel has been attacked off the coast of Oman twice in less than three months. On November 15, the Pacific Zircon was targeted by a drone that the US said was built in Iran.
Following purported threats from the Tehran administration, Iran International TV relocates its studio from the UK.

According to the London police’s recommendation and following “a major uptick in state-backed threats from Iran,” an independent Iranian TV station, Iran International, has relocated its broadcasting studio from London to Washington, DC. The channel made the announcement on Saturday. The head of counterterrorism policing in the UK stated on Saturday that police are still responding to threats made by Iran against people living in the UK and an unnamed Persian-language media organization.

Background: Since anti-government protests spread across Iran in September, Tehran has severely restricted internet access and tightly regulated information in the nation. As a result, Iran International TV has gained relevance. Saudi Arabia has been charged by Iran with sponsoring the station, but its owners have refuted this.
Why it matters: Volant Media, parent company of Iran International, was alerted by UK authorities in November that their reporters were facing rising threats, and Iran has now sanctioned Volant Media for “betting terrorism.” According to the statement, a guy was detained close to the station’s London site on February 11 and accused of terrorism-related offenses.
Saudi Arabia claims that Arab nations need to approach Syria in a fresh way.

At a security forum in Munich on Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated that there was growing agreement in the Arab world that isolating Syria was ineffective and that dialogue with Damascus was required “at some point” to at least address humanitarian issues, including the repatriation of refugees.

Background: As part of the earthquake relief efforts, Riyadh, which had severed ties with the Syrian regime because of its ruthless repression of protestors there, has sent assistance planes to government-held territory in Syria. The flight was the first Saudi one to land at a regime airfield in almost ten years.
Why it matters: Prior to the minister’s comments, several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, supported rebels who opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the country’s 12-year civil war. Assad, who has been shunned by the West, has been surrounded by an outpouring of support from Arab nations that have recently repaired their relations with him.

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