Sunday, March 3, 2024

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030


GQ - "Can Saudi Arabia Buy Soccer?"

"The architect of the SPL’s superstar-acquisition strategy is Michael Emenalo, a charming, slimly built Nigerian who previously worked as technical director of Chelsea, at a time when the London club’s recruitment was the envy of world soccer. Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard—Emenalo signed them all. He was persuaded to join the Saudi project, he says, by a “masterful” seven-minute pitch from the Saudi sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, who explained to him the country’s ambition: to turn the SPL into one of the world’s top-10 soccer leagues. “This has not been done just to get hype,” Emenalo says, taking a seat behind a desk. “It’s been done to have a lasting impact. And for it to have lasting impact, it means that it won’t operate as just a project for the league, it will operate as a project for the development of football in its entirety in the kingdom.”

Reshaping the SPL was not an overnight decision. Long before Ronaldo signed, the league commissioned Deloitte, an official told me, to draw up a plan for overhauling the country’s soccer infrastructure; Ronaldo just accelerated things. Still, Emenalo is the first to admit that last summer got slightly out of hand. “I wouldn’t say that we did the best job in terms of controlling the narrative,” he says."


"But then, this is the kingdom’s power. While we schmucks in the West are freaking out about climate change, here, growth continues unabated. All of this is running on oil and gas that—despite the country’s public climate commitments—Saudi’s future relies on perpetuating demand for. The money comes out of the ground."

WSJ - "Megaprojects in the Desert Sap Saudi Arabia’s Cash"

The kingdom is now halfway through an economic development plan called Vision 2030, which aims to turn Saudi Arabia into an economically diverse powerhouse. Prince Mohammed has described his vision to remake the Middle East into “the new Europe.”


"Among the most expensive elements are an array of what he calls “gigaprojects.” They include New Murabba, a Riyadh development with the giant cube, and a yacht resort on the Red Sea. The most notable is a planned sci-fi-like city of nine million called Neom that features a pair of mirror-glass-covered, 110-mile-long buildings taller than the Empire State Building with a $500 billion price tag.

Much of the spending is only just ramping up. A $62 billion Riyadh gigaproject called Diriyah is a sea of construction cranes, while armies of excavators are digging foundations for the first sections of Neom’s lengthy towers. Neom last month committed $5 billion to build a dam at the base of a planned arid mountain ski resort marked by its heavy reliance on artificial snow-making."

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