“Saudi Arabia’s deserts and mountains will soon be a playground for winter sports,” the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said in a statement about the decision taken at its general meeting in Phnom Penh.
The Saudi bid was “unanimously approved,” the statement said, noting that the megacity known as NEOM will be the first West Asian city to host the event.
First announced in 2017, NEOM has consistently raised eyebrows for proposed blooms like flying taxis and robot girls, even as architects and economists have questioned its feasibility.
In July, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a project within NEOM known as The Line, two parallel mirror-encased skyscrapers stretching over 170 kilometers (105 miles) of mountain and desert terrain.
The Asian Winter Games are expected to take place in Trojena, an area of NEOM “where winter temperatures drop below zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region,” it said. project. website.
Trojena will be completed in 2026 and will include year-round skiing, a man-made freshwater lake, chalets, mansions and ultra-luxury hotels, the website says.
Prince Mohammed, Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEOM, has said it will “redefine mountain tourism for the world by creating a place based on the principles of ecotourism, highlighting our efforts to conserve nature and improve the quality of life of improve the community”.
Trojena is one of 10 regions within NEOM and is located about 50 kilometers inland from the Gulf of Aqaba. It is planned to be surrounded by a nature reserve, something developers say they will try to take into account as they proceed with the project.
“You forge a new path through that environment and you never fix it”, Philip GullettTrojena’s executive director said in an interview on its website.
“We are going for an approach in which you realize the value there is in the flora, fauna and animals.”
Plans for Trojena also include The Vault, a so-called vertical village that Gullett said resembles The Line, by “minimizing space occupancy — and maximizing walkability — rather than spreading all those elements over a large space.”
The artificial lake will be filled with desalinated seawater and will be about five meters deep, Gullett said.
The elevation of the planned site for Trojena, which covers 60 square kilometers, ranges from 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) to 2,600 meters (8,500 feet).
Among those on the successful Saudi bid team for the Asian Winter Games was alpine skier Fayik Abdi, who acknowledged in a statement distributed by the OCA that, as a child, “I never believed I would ski in my home country”.
The Asian Winter Games include skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating competitions — 47 events in all, 28 on snow and 19 on ice, the OCA said.
Saudi Arabia has been criticized for alleged “sports wash” – hosting high-profile boxing, Formula 1 and other matches to divert attention from its human rights record.
An Egyptian official said in September that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia were in talks on a proposal to jointly host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Later this month, in Jeddah, the kingdom will host a tournament of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tourwhich has caused a stir in the professional golf world since its debut in June, with record scholarships and financial guarantees luring several top players away from the US PGA Tour.
In 2034, the capital Riyadh will host the Asian Games, a large-scale multi-sport event.
In August, Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal told AFP in an interview that hosting an Olympic Games was the kingdom’s “ultimate goal”.
“I think Saudi Arabia has shown that we can organize such events,” he said.