Saudi Arabia’s Winter Games in the Desert, 2023

The host for the next Asian winter games was just announced. Planned to be held in 2029 the chosen host is Saudi Arabia – a country known for its hot desert terrain. To make the games possible, Saudi Arabia plans to build Trojena — a massive ski resort that has yet to be built. But does it make sense to build a ski resort in this region? And how will Saudi Arabia manage to build such a difficult megaproject without any existing infrastructure, in just 4 years? Let’s find out. Before we move forward make sure you like this video and subscribe to Top Luxury for more. Saudi Arabia is currently in the middle of an ambitious push to diversify the country’s economy away from oil dependency. To turn this mission into reality Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman unveiled the Saudi Vision 2030. This also includes The Line, which is currently being heavily discussed with opinions ranging from the new era of civilization to a terrifying dystopia. Beyond the Line, Neom will have 9 more projects, one of which is Trojena – a ski resort that aims to redefine mountain tourism and transform the Kingdom into a major regional tourist destination.


So what will it look like? Trojena will take shape 50 kilometers away from the Gulf of Aqaba. The region is home to tall mountains, some of which rise 2,600 meters above sea level. Even though Saudi Arabia is known more for its hot deserts, at the top of the mountains temperatures are often below freezing during the winter. That’s why this location was chosen as the venue for a year round Ski Resort. Plans for Trojena include a ski village, a man-made freshwater lake, and a vertical village within the mountains called the Vault, which will act as the main entrance into the venue. The Vault will be sandwiched in between the mountains with the sides of the mountain making up a roof over the village. This will give way to mesmerizing views of the whole resort including the ski slope and the freshwater lake. Trojena will also offer visitors different experiences during the 4 seasons of the year. The resort will host a wellness season, a lake season dedicated to water sports, an adventure season for activities like paragliding and mountain biking and a winter season.

adventure season for activities like paragliding
and mountain biking and a winter season.

The 2029 Asian Winter Games Announcement: With detailed plans for Trojena sorted out, Saudi Arabia launched an audacious bid to host the Asian Winter games in 2029. Due to the predominantly desert Terrain, Western Asia has never been considered as a host for the Winter games. However, the Olympic Council of Asia has struggled to find hosts for the event and Saudi Arabia was the only candidate for the games. So on 4 October 2022, the OCA officially announced Saudi Arabia as the host for the 2029 Asian Winter Games. Although Trojena is far from finished and it’s not even known whether they have already started construction, Saudi officials remain confident of hosting a winter sports event that quote-unquote “challenges perception”. Neom chief executive Nadhmi al-Nasr has claimed that the Winter Games at Trojena will be an unprecedented global event. However, there are still challenges to overcome if Saudi Arabia wants the venue to be ready in time for the Winter games. While the officials want to get the resort ready by 2026, critics have questioned the practicality of the ambitious timeline. They point to a lack of infrastructure and that the whole place will have to be built from nothing. But does it make sense to host the winter games in Saudi Arabia? While the mountains are much cooler than the rest of the region, they are not known for snowy winters. The temperature here can fall below the freezing point during the winter. However, snowfall remains a rare phenomenon in the region with such an event occurring just twice in the last five years. Even if Trojena gets some snow, it won’t be enough to cover the ski slopes throughout the winter season. So the outdoor resort will have to depend on artificial snowmaking machines to hold the winter games successfully. Neom managing director Jan Paterson claims that “up to 70 per cent” of the resort’s snow cover will be artificial. However, based on the region’s weather patterns, there is also the chance that they will have to use 100% artificial snow for the event. Saudi Arabia will not be the first country to do so as Beijing became the first city to host a Winter Olympics using 100% artificial snow in February 2022.

to host a Winter Olympics using 100% artificial
snow in February 2022.

So the snow making machines do work well and have been successfully used in Ski Resorts around the world. However, the scale at which Saudi Arabia plans to use them has raised concerns over the amount of water resources exhausted to make the games possible. China, for example, used over 1 billion liters of water for snow, equivalent to one day’s drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. The snow machines at Trojena are supposed to be fueled by the proposed artificial freshwater lake. It means that the lake will have to be pumped with water throughout the year using a huge pipeline that will carry desalinated water from the Red Sea. Bringing water upstream from a source located 50 kilometers away will require massive amounts of energy. So the challenge of creating enough artificial snow brings the sustainability of the project into question, and has led to criticism of Saudi Arabia’s sustainability claims. Many organizations and even Olympic athletes have joined in the criticism and have questioned the common sense in building a city from nothing, especially one that will burn so many energy resources throughout the year. Opponents of Saudi Arabian plans believe that the Kingdom is not concerned about sustainability and the environment in the least and is only concerned with brightening its image around the globe. The country has recently been very active in bringing sports tourism to its shores. They have hosted some high profile boxing matches, Formula 1 races and even wrestling events in recent months.

They have hosted some high profile boxing
matches, Formula 1 races and even wrestling

A consortium led by the Saudi State also recently completed the purchase of English Premier League club Newcastle United. And on top of that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia are also in talks to submit a proposal to host the 2030 football World Cup. Despite the criticism, Saudi Arabia remains hopeful of completing Trojena on time. So, what will happen next in Trojena? Construction is set to commence on the venue in 2022, and so far the planners are sticking with the 2026 completion date. Saudi Arabia has big plans for the site even beyond the Winter games and expects to attract 700 thousand annual visitors and 7000 permanent residents by 2030. The country will also look to build on the success of the winter games and launch an olympic bid in the future. However, for all that to happen, the desert kingdom will need to come up with sustainable solutions for the massive environmental footprint of building modern megacities from nothing. What do you think of Saidi Arabia’s plans for the Winter games? Are you rather skeptical about this or do you think the development in Saudi Arabia is a good thing? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed

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