Saudi Arabia to Build Outdoor Ski Area

Saudi Arabia have announced plans to build a ski-resort in the desert as part of the Kingdom’s Neom megacity project.

The ski resort, named ‘Trojena’, will contain a “folded vertical village” and a three-kilometre man-made lake.

“Trojena will redefine mountain tourism for the world by creating a place based on the principles of ecotourism, highlighting our efforts to preserve nature and enhance the community’s quality of life,” Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, adding “[It] will be an important addition to tourism in the region, a unique example of how Saudi Arabia is creating destinations based on its geographical and environmental diversity.”

The Neom development, which covers a vast area, has raised eyebrows around the world as kit has very ambitious plans but so far very little of it has been built. Most high profile is the plan to build a  170km straight line city. But there’s also an eight-sided city that floats on water, and an entirely non-profit city named after Salman.

Trojena will offer year-round outdoor skiing, a wellness resort and an interactive nature reserve, among other experiences, and is due to be completed in 2026. It will also include The Vault, a folded vertical village that “connects the physical and digital worlds”.

A press release for the project states, “Outdoor skiing is a unique feature of Trojena that will provide a unique experience never before witnessed in the region, especially in Gulf countries known for their desert climates. Amateurs and professionals alike will be able to enjoy the many ski runs of various difficulties with an array of contrasting and breath-taking views. The blue waters of the Red Sea, beauty of the Neom mountain ranges and the golden desert sand dunes will provide skiers a first-of-its-kind experience that combines these diverse environments with fun-filled and adventurous moments.”

It is unclear from initial announcements how much skiing there will be and how the snow will be maintained although a promotional video shows dozens of runs and natural snowfall.

All-weather snowmaking machines do exist and can maintain snow cover at temperatures well above freezing but many machines would be requited to cover the kind of area depicted in images of how Trojena’s ski slopes will look. Nothing remotely on the scale depicted has been created before. The snowmaking required would also require a lot of energy, but the plan is for Neom to be a zero carbon city.

Trojena is to be situated in the centre of Neom, 50 kilometres from the Gulf of Aqaba coast, in a region characterized by a mountain range with the highest peaks in Saudi Arabia at approximately 2,600 meters above sea level.

Temperatures in the region are reported to be 10 degrees lower than the Saudi Arabia average which range from 10-45C (50-110F), so close to freezing at times.

It’s development is part of a wider movement towards winter-sports in Saudi Arabia which already has a number of indoor snow centres and one of the world’s largest, Ski Saudi, under construction by the company behind Ski Dubai. Saudi Arabia is also developing an international ski and snowboarding team.

Trojena expects to attract 700,000 visitors and 7,000 permanent residents by 2030. The development will also include the ‘Slope Residences,’ which will be located near the ski slope overlooking the lake, designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape, as well as luxurious mansions with panoramic views designed to reflect the beauty of the environment.

“Trojena aims to change current perceptions of visitors and residents about the services that can be provided by mountain resorts, through its exceptional design, advanced architecture and technology that integrates reality with the virtual world,” the press release continues.