NewsThe 2029 Asian Winter Games will be in Saudi...

The 2029 Asian Winter Games will be in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been chosen on Tuesday to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games in NEOM , a futuristic megacity in the desert kingdom whose creators say it will have a year-round winter sports complex.

“The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playing field for winter sports,” the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said in a statement on the decision made at its general assembly in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Located on the shores of the Red Sea, the NEOM project, estimated at several hundred billion dollars and led by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane, was launched in 2017. Architects and economists questioned its viability.

The Asian Winter Games would take place in Trojena, a mountainous sector of NEOM, “where temperatures drop below zero degrees in winter and where throughout the year they are generally below ten degrees,” the promoters state on their website, without mentioning the issue of rainfall.

Located 50 kilometers from the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, with altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters in an area of almost 60 square kilometers, Trojena, which will be completed in 2026, will include ski slopes open all year round, an artificial lake of fresh water, chalets and luxury hotels, according to the same source.

Ice and snow in Trojena

After becoming Prime Minister at the end of September, simultaneously occupying several high-profile economic roles, Prince Mohammed chairs the NEOM Board of Directors.

The Asian Winter Games include skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating competitions, for a total of 47 events, 28 of them on snow and 19 on ice, according to the OCA.

“I never would have imagined being able to ski one day in my country,” Saudi alpine skier Fayik Abdi reacted on Tuesday, quoted in the organization’s statement.

Following its neighbors in the Gulf, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, an ultra-conservative country, not very open to international events, has hosted several world competitions in recent years, including the Dakar Rally and a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

If the kingdom thus seeks to diversify its economy and brighten its image, NGOs regularly accuse Saudi Arabia of serious human rights violations, with a relentless crackdown on political dissidents, including women’s rights activists. .

With information from AFP.

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