Distinguished by its Arabic meaning, “The Mukaab,” or “The Cube,” is set to redefine Riyadh’s cityscape, emerging as the world’s largest inner-city building. Read on to discover the impressive engineering talents needed to make it possible.
Plans for The Mukaab, to be situated in Riyadh’s New Murabba downtown, were unveiled early in 2023 by Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the New Murabba Development Company (NMDC).
This ambitious venture aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to establish the world’s most extensive modern downtown in Riyadh. The cube-shaped skyscraper, measuring 400 meters in height, width, and length, draws inspiration from the region’s traditional Najdi architectural style.
Funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the $620 billion (almost AUD $940 billion) sovereign wealth fund led by MBS, The Mukaab is anticipated to encompass 2 million square meters of floor space, securing its status as the tallest structure in the city.
Unveiled as “the new face of Riyadh,” this immersive destination pioneers digital and virtual holographic technology.
Strategically located at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads in Riyadh’s northwest, The Mukaab offers unique living, working, and entertainment experiences within a 15-minute walking radius. With its internal transport system and proximity to King Khalid International Airport, it aspires to be a gateway to another world.
The New Murabba (downtown) project spans over 25 million square meters and will host 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, and 80 entertainment and cultural venues.
Embracing sustainability, the project incorporates green spaces, walking paths, and cycling tracks, fostering healthy lifestyles and community engagement. The Mukaab’s visionary design includes an iconic museum, a technology and design university, and a multipurpose immersive theater.
With 980,000 square meters dedicated to retail, 1.4 million square meters for offices, and 1.8 million square meters for community facilities, The Mukaab is poised to contribute $47 billion (AUD $71 billion) to non-oil GDP by 2030, generating 334,000 direct and indirect jobs over seven years.
In an interview with Arab News, Yasser Elsheshtawy, an architecture professor at Columbia University, emphasized the serious thought behind such visionary projects. He believes the Mukaab will be a unique icon for Riyadh, synonymous with the city’s identity, akin to the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House.
While skeptics may dismiss such projects, analysts argue that Saudi Arabia’s initiatives aim to compete with regional counterparts and shed its image as merely an oil-rich and conservative state.
Andreas Krieg from King’s College London Institute of Middle Eastern Studies noted a narrative shift. Saudi Arabia endeavors to portray itself as a country of development, breaking free from negative associations.
Despite announcing numerous mega-projects, concerns linger about their pace of execution. Reports suggest delays in progress, prompting speculation about whether these ambitious endeavors will be completed on time.
The construction of The Mukaab demands cutting-edge engineering across various domains. The project’s sheer scale necessitates robust construction methodologies, innovative civil engineering solutions, intricate electrical systems, and advanced automation for efficient management.
The cube’s unique design, blending tradition with modernity, presents challenges and opportunities for civil engineers. From the foundation to the intricate facade, each element requires meticulous planning and execution. Cutting-edge construction materials and techniques will likely play a pivotal role in ensuring structural integrity and aesthetic appeal.
The Mukaab’s electrical systems must meet the demands of a futuristic urban space. From smart lighting solutions to energy-efficient infrastructure, the project provides an opportunity to showcase advancements in electrical engineering.
Moreover, integrating automation into the building’s core functions ensures seamless operations and optimal resource utilization.
The immersive experiences promised by The Mukaab necessitate a sophisticated approach to automation and virtual technologies. Engineers will need to collaborate on creating a seamless blend of physical and digital elements, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in urban design.
Set to be completed by 2030, The Mukaab’s realization goes beyond architectural aesthetics; it stands as a testament to the intersection of tradition, innovation, and engineering prowess. As Riyadh prepares to welcome this unprecedented structure, the world eagerly anticipates the unfolding of a new chapter in urban development.