Saudi Arabia will be pumping $23 billion into a massive beautification project for its capital Riyadh, its government has announced.
The plan, which will incorporate green space, recreational areas and more than 1,000 art installations, seeks to improve quality of life for the capital's 5 million residents and prepare the country for the opening up of its tourism sector.
The project will also open up private investment opportunities to the tune of $15 billion, the government said Tuesday. It's the latest in a series of developments being launched as part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030, an initiative aimed at diversifying the oil-rich monarchy's revenue sources and creating private sector jobs.
Diagrams of the plan outlined 84 miles of cycling track and a park that's quadruple the size of Central Park. Work will begin in the second-half of this year and will be completed between 2023 and 2030, creating 70,000 jobs, according to state news agency SPA.
The announcement comes on the heels of Western media reports alleging a growing rift between the young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father, King Salman. The government has not responded to these reports, and the king has ordered one of Riyadh's main roads named after his son.
The kingdom has touted a number of high-profile events, including its hosting of the Formula E championship last December and World Wrestling Entertainment tournaments, as evidence of a society known for its strict conservatism opening up to the world. The powerful Mohammed bin Salman has championed a more liberal vision of Saudi Arabia, which has the support of many young Saudis.