The Arabian Peninsula has some ambitious building plans, but the fact of the matter is that they are too ambitious to be feasible, despite their huge amounts of wealth. Dubai has the “Downtown Circle,” a megastructure behind (as of right now) the completely conceptual architectural firm, Znera Space. Saudi Arabia has the Neom Project, a futuristic project built on a lot of promises that it seems very unlikely to make good on. Now the city of Riyadh has announced its own project, a gigantic cube-shaped skyscraper called Mukaab, which so far seems like it might actually be built.
Backed by the country’s Public Investment Fund, the 19-square kilometre development will be the largest building ever constructed (if it gets finished) at 400m high, 400m long, and 400m wide. It is hoped to be large enough to fit 20 Empire State Buildings and will feature a hollowed-out centre pierced with a spiralling tower.
The plans specify that upon completion, the building will contain over 100,000 residential apartments, 9,000 hotel rooms, 1.4 million sqm of office space, and 980,000 sqm of retail space. Included will be over 80 entertainment venues like a broadway district, university, opera, museum, plaza, cinema, innovation lab, gallery, and concert hall.
The Mukaab at least seems achievable as it doesn’t rely on yet to be invented technology. The fact that it’s a cube also means that it can realistically be built with current technology rather than the strange shape of the Downtown Circle.
Another reason why this will actually be built, is that it hasn’t been designed by Znera Space and will be developed by the New Murabba Development Company (NMDC). As it stands, it doesn’t have the ambition of the other projects making it far more feasible, but we will know for certain once development concludes in 2030.