Saudi Arabia is building a $US7 billion city on the sand -- here's what it will look like

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter, but falling oil prices have hurt the economy and made it harder for the country to pay its oil workers.

To give its economy a boost, the Saudi Arabian government has been working in recent years to transform hundreds of square kilometres of desert into new cities that create jobs and diversify the economy away from crude oil.

One of the developments under construction is the Knowledge Economic City, set to be complete by 2020.

Take a look at the master plan below.

Saudi Arabia is building the Knowledge Economic City in Medina, located 100km from the Red Sea coast.

Knowledge Economic City Company

Amr Dabbagh, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, announced the project in 2006.

Source: The Knowledge Economic City Company

The$7 billion development will measure 4.8 million square metres when complete.

Knowledge Economic City Company

The city's master plan calls for retail, office space, and over 92,000 square metres of housing.

Knowledge Economic City Company

The Knowledge Economic City's four residential neighbourhoods will feature parks, playgrounds, gyms, mosques, shops, and swimming pools.

Knowledge Economic City Company

One neighbourhood will include 900 villas, which will look like this.

Knowledge Economic City Company

The retail space will include a 49,000-square-metre strip mall.

Knowledge Economic City Company

The mall will have luxury cars showrooms, restaurants, caf├ęs, and some American food chains.

Knowledge Economic City Company

The Saudi Arabian government claims the development will create 20,000 jobs and provide housing for 150,000 people. They will live in apartment buildings that look like this.

Knowledge Economic City Company

Residents will be able to travel to Mecca and Jeddah via the Haramain High Speed Railway, a 450km train line set to open in early 2018.

Knowledge Economic City Company

Source: Arab News

The project is part of Saudi Arabia's effort to create an economy that focuses less on oil. In October, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the government will also start building a $US500 billion mega-city, called NEOM.

Knowledge Economic City Company

Source: Business Insider

The developments are certainly ambitious.

Knowledge Economic City Company

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