The Middle East seems to be the place to go if you want to see some totally bananas building projects come to life. A new project called The Mukaab may just be the one ruling project, especially since it is promising a metaverse experience like none other yet in the world.
From The Line of Neom to the underwater resort of Aamala, some totally whacky projects are already breaking ground in the region.
However, there’s no rest for Saudi’s HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. He has announced that he plans to build the world’s largest modern downtown area in Riyadh, as well as all of the other projects he has cooking. The area will be called “Murabba” and will (allegedly, at least) be based on sustainability.
The construction of Murabba will hopefully add 334,000 direct and indirect jobs to the non-oil part of the budget, according to a press statement.
However, the most fascinating part of this project is the wild metaverse that is going to be built at the heart of the project. This metaverse is taking a totally opposite approach to the one taken by Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Here is the pitch to investors.
The centrepiece of this downtown area is is a giant “cube” called “Mukaab”, which promises to immerse visitors in a metaverse-like world. This cube is planned to be absolutely massive, and if the project goes ahead, it will be one of the largest structures in the world. It will stand 400m high, 400m wide, and 400m long.
Here’s the interesting bit for Web3 lovers, “Mukaab” will be the world’s first immersive destination which will have holographic experiences for the people who are inside it. They also promise virtual reality experiences but the details are vague.
The sprawling mega project will reportedly also have racetracks for flying cars.
Daan V is a Brand Strategy Director, who has worked with Coca Cola, Meta and Amazon. He says that while the Metaverse is incredibly appealing, the Metaverse as conceived by Zuckerberg, which ultimately failed, didn’t have the technology needed to deliver what we expected of it. “Headsets remain costly, access is limited, and the overall user experience does not meet the seamless and all-encompassing world that has long been anticipated.”
However, The Mukaab in Riyadh may have just got around this metaverse concept, by presenting the metaverse in an entirely new way. The pioneering approach means that it can be a shared experience without the failing technology. “By crafting expansive, metaphysical worlds that individuals can traverse and engage with in person, The Mukaab presents a singular opportunity for authentic human connection and shared experiences,” the project claims.
Retailers and the metaverse
Daan V says The Mukaab offers a space “that transcends mundane reality, allowing visitors to experience the Metaverse in a palpable manner.”
“[It] is more than a mere architectural marvel; it serves as a portal to novel dimensions that showcase the boundless potential of human creativity. This imposing structure has been conceived to accommodate vast worlds within its confines, each possessing unique atmospheres, landscapes, and narratives. Visitors can embark on a voyage through time and space, from ancient civilizations to futuristic paradises, all while remaining anchored in the physical domain. The Mukaab’s state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge technology facilitate the creation of immersive environments that stimulate all the senses, instilling in visitors the sensation of having genuinely entered another world.”
Daan V also says that while the Mukaab is an ambitious and costly endeavor, the advantages for the retail sector could be interesting: “By integrating elements of the physical Metaverse, retailers can transform their brick-and-mortar stores into immersive, interactive spaces that offer unique, personalised experiences to customers. These experiences can range from augmented reality product displays to virtual fitting rooms, resulting in a seamless blend of digital and physical shopping.”
Will it go ahead?
This project is all in aid of the country’s “Vision 2030” project, which it hopes will open the country up to international tourists.
The Murabba project plans to have green areas, walking and cycling paths, plus 80 entertainment and cultural venues. Throw in a few museums, a tech-focused university, and a multipurpose immersive theatre and apparently everyone will start piling in. If you build it, they will come, apparently.
The project promises to have 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, 980,000 sq. m of retail space, and 1.4 million sq. m of office space. And if the metaverse they plan is going to be as good as promised, we here at The Chainsaw will be on the first plane. Let’s hope this project gets off the ground!