A new company, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has been launched to build what is being billed as the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, launched the New Murabba Development Company (NMDC) of which he is also the chairman.

The New Murabba project will be situated at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads to the north-west of Riyadh, and is due to be completed by 2030.

It will be spread over an area of 19 sq km, and will reportedly accommodate hundreds of thousands of residents, according to state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The project will offer over 25 million sqm of floor area, featuring more than 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, and over 980,000 sqm of retail space, as well as 1.4 million sqm of office space, 620,000 sqm of leisure assets, and 1.8 million sqm of space dedicated to community facilities.

The entire development will be built around the concept of sustainability, featuring green areas and walking and cycling paths, with most living, working and entertainment experiences accessible within a 15-minute walking radius of each other.

Located around a 20-minute drive from the Riyadh’s international airport, the downtown project will have its own internal transport system.

It will also include a museum, a technology and design university, a multipurpose immersive theatre, and over 80 entertainment and culture venues.

One of the highlights of the development will be the Mukaab structure, which is being described as “the world’s first immersive destination offering an experience created by digital and virtual technology with the latest holographics.” The structure will measure 400m in height, will be 400m wide, and 400m long. The cubic shape of the Mukaab will be inspired by the modern Najdi architectural style, one that is being used in the development of the Diriyah giga project in Riyadh too.

The Mukaab will include a tower atop a spiral base, and a structure featuring 2 million sqm of floor space that will be a premium hospitality destination and also include retail, cultural and tourist attractions, along with residential and hotel units, commercial spaces, and recreational facilities.

The project is expected to add SAR180 billion to the kingdom’s non-oil GDP and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030.

In a bid to develop the country’s tourism and leisure assets as it attempts to diversify its economy beyond oil, the PIF which is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, recently included the Diriyah Project in Riyadh as its fifth giga project. Diriyah is a US$63.2 billion mixed-use development and features the UNESCO World Heritage site of the mud-brick-walled At-Turaif District.

Apart from Diriyah, the other PIF-backed giga projects in the kingdom include include Neom, Red Sea, Qiddiya and Roshn.