Saudi Arabia Bids to Host Asian Winter Games at As Yet Unbuilt SkI Area
Saudi Arabia has submitted a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at a ski area it plans to build in the Sarawat mountains, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the Red Sea coast. However work on the ski area has not yet commenced.
Trojena Sports City has been promoted as an “all year ski village” but it remains unclear how this will be achieved. The Sarawat mountains, which peak at 3,666m over the border in Yemen, are a little cooler than the surrounding area and occasionally see a dusting of snow in winter, but it seems too warm for conventional snowmaking machines.
Promotional videos for the project, which appear to show animations of skiers skiing uphill into a blizzard, have not helped shed any light on what’s planned leading to speculation of artificial (dry) ski slope surfaces being used and/or all-weather snowmaking machines which make snow inside refrigerated chambers before it is spread out on to slopes. These are widely used but so far only for relatively small areas and the issue of snowmelt remains after the snow is out in the open air.
Trojena Sports City is part of the massive, futuristic $500bn carbon-neutral Neom mega-city project, the brainchild of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who wants to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil. Neom is supposed to be completed by 2025 but media reports indicate that there’s been little construction progress so far.
The Middle East is home to a number of conventional ski areas, in Israel and Lebanon, some of which date back to the first half of the last century/ The region is also home to a number of major indoor snow centres and Dubai has recently been accepted into the group of countries in the International Ski Federation (FIS). However, no country in the area has hosted the Asian Winter Games, first staged in 1986, before.