• | 10:00 am

This Saudi project aims to establish a new global standard for urban living

Sustainability lies at the heart of this vision, says Michael Dyke, CEO of NMDC

This Saudi project aims to establish a new global standard for urban living
[Source photo: New Murabba Development Company (NMDC) | Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

The 15-minute city concept is quickly spreading to the Middle East. Last year, Riyadh embraced the idea of the 15-minute city—the concept that one should be able to live a short walk or bike ride from work, school, stores, and other aspects of daily life.

The New Murabba Development Company (NMDC) is undertaking a hugely ambitious development in downtown Riyadh. The aim is to transform the capital city into a global metropolis and an exceptionally mobile and environmentally friendly city.

“As a 15-minute city designed around human connection, this development prioritizes being completely walkable and will host a vibrant mix of residential, commercial, and leisure spaces,” says Michael Dyke, CEO of NMDC. “Sustainability lies at the heart of this vision, with integrated green spaces, energy-efficient infrastructure, and minimizing our environmental footprint.”

The kingdom aims to double the size and population of its capital city with total investments of $800 billion under its Vision 2030 plan to modernize the country and reduce its dependence on oil export revenues.

The NMDC’s project includes a museum, a technology and design university, a multi-purpose immersive theater, and more than 80 cultural and entertainment venues. The neighborhood will feature its internal transportation system. 

It’s also just a better way to live.


“At its core, this development aims to establish a new global standard for urban living. This project aims to be a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. It will attract businesses, investors, and top talent worldwide,” says Dyke. 

He adds that the project’s focus on tourism, leisure, and culture will also significantly contribute to the kingdom’s goal of building a vibrant society with expanded economic opportunities across various sectors.

The project is expected to inject a staggering $50 billion into the non-oil economy and generate an impressive 334,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030, bolstering the kingdom’s position as a regional economic powerhouse.

New Murabba’s focus on innovation, sustainability, and world-class amenities positions it as a major tourist destination, says Dyke. “This influx of tourism will further diversify the Saudi economy and create new business opportunities.”

It will be built around integrating innovative technology to create a city that enhances the quality of life for its citizens.

“Smart systems will optimize resource management, enhance public services, and promote efficiency. The destination envisions an immersive digital and virtual experience layer, enriching the everyday lives of residents and visitors,” Dyke adds.

With a completion date of 2030 — in time for Expo 2030 — the development will spread over 19 square kilometers to the northwest of Riyadh and provide accommodation for hundreds of thousands of residents.


New Murabba breaks from traditional urban planning in several ways. First, its focus on sustainability prioritizes a human-centric design. Green spaces, pedestrianized areas, and integrated transport systems create a livable environment rather than a car-dominated one.

The project will feature green areas and walking and cycling paths that will enhance the quality of life by promoting healthy, active lifestyles and community activities.

Energy efficiency plays a central role. The infrastructure features smart grids, intelligent building systems, and cutting-edge energy-saving technologies.

“We are prioritizing the integration of renewable energy sources. This includes extensive use of solar power alongside innovative solutions like advanced energy storage systems. These initiatives will reduce our carbon footprint and establish a model for green urban development,” says Dyke.


The sheer scale and ambition are unparalleled, adds Dyke. 

“The Mukaab, its centerpiece, will be a record-breaking megastructure housing an unprecedented immersive experience.” 

Located in the center of the Murabba district, the Mukaab skyscraper will be the iconic landmark of the new development. Upon completion, the cube-shaped structure is said to become the largest built structure in the world. Its structure was designed to integrate technological advancements to create an immersive destination. The exterior triangular-shaped cladding is inspired by the modern Najdi architectural style.

“Its sheer scale provides unprecedented opportunities for innovative mixed-use development, creating a self-contained micro-city within the heart of Riyadh,” says Dyke. 

The Mukaab has the potential to house everything – from cultural and entertainment venues to educational institutions and commercial spaces, all seamlessly interconnected. 

“It represents a groundbreaking approach to maximizing urban density while offering residents and visitors a wealth of unparalleled amenities,” he adds.

  Be in the Know. Subscribe to our Newsletters.


Suparna Dutt D’Cunha is the Editor at Fast Company Middle East. She is interested in ideas and culture and cover stories ranging from films and food to startups and technology. She was a Forbes Asia contributor and previously worked at Gulf News and Times Of India. More