Saudi Arabia’s Olympic committee has announced a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games in the planned megacity of NEOM, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.
Officials are bidding for the games to be held at the TROJENA project in NEOM – an ambitious vision for a mountain resort in the northwest of the country.
More than 32 Asian countries are expected to attend the games, competing in events such as alpine skiing, ice hockey, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and figure skating.
The plans for TROJENA include an outdoor ski slope, created by blasting artificial snow at the mountains.
Saudi Arabia predicts a $798 million (three billion riyal) boost to the Saudi GDP by 2030 from the TROJENA project.
Around 7,000 people are expected to live permanently at TROJENA, and 700,000 tourists are predicted to visit each year once the project is completed, according to SPA.
The mountain resort is expected to form one part of the wider NEOM megacity – a $500 billion project currently under construction in a remote location on the Red Sea coast.
The mountainous Tabuk region, where Saudi Arabia is building NEOM, is one of the few areas in the country that sees some snowfall during the winter months.
Winter sports are not often associated with the desert kingdom, but Saudi Arabia did send its first winter Olympics team to the Beijing games in February.
Fayik Abdi competed in the men’s giant slalom, placing 44th.
Commenting on the 2029 Asian Winter Games bid announcement, President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki praised the “generous and unprecedented support enjoyed by all sectors in general and the sports sector, in particular by our wise leadership and the follow-up and attention of His Highness, the Crown Prince.”
In 2020, Riyadh was selected to host the summer Asian Games in 2034.