Back in 2005, the Saudi government announced plans to create a new city (from scratch) on its western coast that will be the size of Washington D.C. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat reports that construction is already under way.
The city is named after the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died in January 2015. Its formal name is the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Having a city on the peninsular country’s western coast will give it access to the Suez Canal, reflecting the government’s attempt to diversify its oil-dependent economy by focusing more in its shipping industry.
According to the CTBUH, Saudi Arabia hopes the port will be part of a new Silk Road that will connect with Mediterranean countries and Southern Europe.
Eric Reguly, a journalist of Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, who visited the under-construction city a few months ago, said the site looks more like a movie set.
“The rest of the city is pretty much an expanse of nothing, save for a suburb of villas, an international school and, a dozen kilometers to the north, a container-ship port, and a few factories in an area that could double as a stage set for a Mad Max film,” Reguly writes.
During a recent interview with Public Radio International, Reguly said that the city’s reliance on cars is an obvious flaw. “"It's going to be very much dependent on cheap oil," he adds, which was the very thing the city was designed to avoid.