DUBAI - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday launched a company to carry out a hugely ambitious development in downtown Riyadh, as part of the leading oil exporter's plans to make its capital a global metropolis and diversify the economy.
The kingdom aims to double the size and population of its capital city with total investments of $800 billion under its Vision 2030 plan to modernise the Gulf Arab state and reduce its dependence on oil export revenues.
State news agency SPA said the New Murabba Development Company's project would include a museum, a technology and design university, a multi-purpose immersive theatre and more than 80 cultural and entertainment venues.
With a completion date of 2030 - in time for Expo 2030, which Saudi Arabia has bid to host - the development will spread over an area of 19 square kilometres to the northwest of Riyadh and provide accommodation for hundreds of thousands of residents.
The SPA said it all fell under the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund's (PIF) plans to empower the private sector, support real estate projects and local infrastructure, and diversify the economy's sources of income.
It said the project was expected to add 180 billion riyals ($48.00 billion) to non-oil GDP and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030.
"The New Murabba project will be built around the concept of sustainability, featuring green areas and walking and cycling paths that will enhance the quality of life by promoting healthy, active lifestyles and community activities," the SPA added.
($1 = 3.7500 riyals)
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah; editing by Barbara Lewis)