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A banner advertises plans for a greener and more sustainable city.

A banner advertises plans for a greener and more sustainable city.

Photographer: Tasneem Alsultan/Bloomberg

CityLab
Environment

Saudi Arabia Wants Its Capital to Be Somewhere You’d Want to Live

The crown prince’s next grand plan is to defy the skeptics and turn Riyadh into a greener, cooler city for twice the population. 

On Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Road, construction workers sweep sand off a brand-new sidewalk. A gardener pops a spindly plant out of a plastic pot and gives it a new home in the ground, smoothing the soft red earth with his hands.

Behind them, 15-foot-high banners advertise the future gardens and canals of King Salman Park, a plan to turn an air base in Saudi Arabia’s desert capital into a public green space four times bigger than Central Park in New York.