SAUDI Arabia is a country associated more with sand than snow – but the desert kingdom has grand plans to become a leading winter sports centre.
The coming years could see the resort of Trojena join places like Val d’Isere, Verbier and Zermatt as one of the world’s top ski resorts, if these incredible images are anything to go by.
7Saudi Arabia hopes Trojena will become a winter sports centreCredit: NEOM7Most of the snow will still have to be artificially generatedCredit: Dezeen7The resort is situation in the mountains near the Red SeaCredit: NEOM7A giant artificial lake will be built at TrojenaCredit: DezeenTrojena will host the 2029 Asian Winter Games and work has already begun to transform the barren region into a futuristic resort.
The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s $500billion (£400bn) NEOM project which has a 75 mile long sideways skyscraper dubbed The Line at its heart.
The project is the brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and work has also begun on the incredible structure.
Trojena will be built in the Sarawat mountains about 30 miles east of the Red Sea coast, an area which is 10C cooler on average than the rest of the region.
It will come complete with a man-made freshwater lake and a nature reserve as well as outdoor ski slopes.
The temperatures in the area often drop below zero in the winter and it’s one of the very few areas in the desert kingdom that sees any snow.
But there have already been questions about whether there will be enough natural snow to support winter sports activities.
A slick promotional video shows skiers making their way up from the desert to the mountains. in the north-western Tabuk region of Saudi Arabia.
While the footage might show flakes of snow falling and pristine white slopes, Neom managing director Jan Paterson reportedly admitted “up to 70 per cent” of it will be artificial.
Fraser Wilkin, an expert on snow, believes the amount of snow will be “meaningless”.
There might be “the odd shower or storm in the winter” but there will be “whole months on end of clear blue skies”, he said.
The aim is to get the resort completed by 2026 when it will begin to welcome some of the 700,000 visitors it hopes to lure each year.
They will be housed in apartments, chalets and mansions as well as hotels, according to the project’s website.
“Trojena will become one of the most dazzling destinations in NEOM and across the world,” says NEOM.
There have also been questions raised about claims the resort will be sustainable.
The construction of Trojena would require “blowing up large portions of the landscape” to build an artificial lake in the centre of the resort, reports Bloomberg.
Making the snow and ice will also consume vast resources, says Dr Madeline Orr, founder and co-director of the Sport Ecology Group at Loughborough University.
“Undoubtedly, the energy and water resources required for ski facilities and ice rinks will be extraordinary,” she said.
“I’ll be watching to see how they make it happen, but I have serious concerns about any claims this event will be sustainable.”
Meanwhile, construction has already begun on 110-mile long project The Line, drone footage released at the end of last year shows.
Footage published by Saudi Arabian drone operators OT Sky and respected architecture magazine Dezeen shows the groundworks for the huge structure.
Countless trucks and earthmovers can be seen rumbling around the building site as they begin work.
The project also includes plans for a floating Megacity called OXAGON off the Red Sea coast that would be arranged around water-filled squares linked by canals.
But human rights activists have called on western firms to boycott the development because Saudia Arabia’s appalling human rights record.
Three tribesman were last year sentenced to death for refusing to leave their homes to make way for the construction site.
The trio from the Howeitat tribe had protested against their forcible eviction from the northern Tabuk province.
Abdul Rahim al-Howeitat, a prominent critic of the exorbitant Neom development, accused officials of “state terrorism”.
7Trojena is part of Saudi Arabia NEOM projectCredit: NEOM7It’s hoped 700,000 visitors will go to the Saudi resortCredit: Dezeen7Questions have been raised about the environmental impactCredit: Dezeen
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk