Lazy eyes listen
Saudi Arabia is constructing a massive cube in the heart of a new city center in Riyadh, the latest in a long line of oddly shaped structures and cities planned by the kingdom.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the project on Thursday, announcing that he will chair the New Murabba Development Company, which aims to develop “the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh”.
According to a statement from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the project will include a museum, a tech and design university, an immersive theater, and more than 80 entertainment venues.
At its heart will be “The Mukaab,” which translates to “cube,” a massive 400-metre-long, wide, and deep structure composed of overlapping triangular forms in an architectural style inspired by Saudi Arabia’s Najd region.
The Mukaab will be “the world’s first immersive, experiential destination,” complete with “digital and virtual technology with the latest holographics”.
CGI dragons are seen flying around the structure and floating rocks hover in the atmosphere at one point in the promotional video, possibly hinting at the type of “holographics” visitors can expect.
“Have dinner with gentle giants. “Explore a world of magic, or live on Mars,” the video says vaguely, blending reality and fantasy, cutting from a computer-generated restaurant surrounded by ocean water to flying otherworldly vehicles that look like they belong in a sci-fi film.
The project will be built in a 19-square-kilometer area northwest of Riyadh at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads.
According to the press release, it will have 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, over 980,000 square meters of retail space, and 1.4 million square meters of office space.
The project will add 180 billion riyals ($48 billion) to the Saudi economy and “create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs,” according to the press release. The enormous project’s cost was not disclosed.
Social media users widely mocked New Murabba.
“Congratulations to whichever unscrupulous consulting firm will make a fortune next year pitching the Saudis on The Tesseract,” tweeted journalist Gregg Carlstrom, referring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s cube structure.
The Mukaab was also mocked for its resemblance to Saudi Arabia’s most important cube-like structure, the Kaaba. Muslims all over the world pray to and circumambulate the building in the center of Mecca’s Grand Mosque during Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.
“Building a new Kaaba solely dedicated to capitalism is a little too obvious,” Intercept reporter Murtaza Hussain said.
“It appears that [the crown prince] is constructing his Kaaba. “Will he make it the new qibla for worshipers?” Asad Abu Khalil, an academic, tweeted.
It is not the first geometrically challenging grandiose project announced by Saudi Arabia in recent years.
The kingdom has also announced a ski resort with a folded vertical village, a straight-line city of 170 kilometers, and an eight-sided city.