In Riyadh the 'new Kaaba' of Mohammed bin Salman

The Saudi crown prince unveiled the design of Mukaab, the capital's new city center. An immense cube 400 meters high, wide and deep that embodies his "Vision 2030" for the modernization of the country. Of which the reference in form to the sacred building at the center of Mecca is not lost on him.

Riyad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A giant cube 400 meters high, wide and deep. A new heart of Riyad that in addition to housing hundreds of thousands of residents, along with luxury hotels, museums and entertainment venues, aims to become the symbol of "Vision 2030," the philosophy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's "new Saudi Arabia."

This will be the physiognomy of "Mukaab" (the cube), the new city center in the Saudi capital that the heir to the throne of Riyad launched in grand style these hours with the usual array of futuristic renderings and videos.  

Mukaab is the ideal continuation of Neom, the city that the Saudis have been building from scratch in the north of the country for some years now, with the ambition of making it an international magnet alternative to the big Gulf metropolises.

A very long strip from the sea to the desert, destined to accommodate 9 million people, but at the expense of the Bedouins: still these days at least 47 members of the Howeitat tribe have been imprisoned or detained by the Saudi authorities for resisting the land expropriation measure.

Now-as work continues on the Neom construction sites-Mohammed bin Salman thus unveils the complementary design of Riyadh's new center.

And it cannot escape the fact that for this project that will touch the lives of Saudis much more closely, the chosen imagery is a giant cube, that is, the same geometric structure as the Kaaba, the black building at the center of Mecca around which Muslim pilgrims converge.

Not a few Arabs are already pointing this out on social media, ironizing about Mohammad bin Salman's "new Kaaba," which is much more devoted to the canons of global economics than to the rigor of Wahhabi Islam.

According to the announcement, the new Riyadh center would be built at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid Street in the northwest of the city, on a 19-square-kilometer area a 20-minute drive from the airport.

The project will offer more than 25 million square meters of floor space, with more than 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms and more than 980,000 square meters of retail space, as well as 1.4 million square meters of office space, 620,000 square meters of leisure activities and 1.8 million square meters of space dedicated to community facilities.

According to Mohammed bin Salmad's plans, work on Riyadh's Mukaab is also expected to be completed by the fateful date of 2030.