[IMAGES] Winter Games planned in the desert in 2029 sow controversy

[IMAGES] Winter Games planned in the desert in 2029 s&egrave ;ment the controversy

MISE À DAY

Greenpeace on Wednesday criticized the awarding of the 2029 Asian Winter Games to Saudi Arabia, denouncing as dangerous the kingdom's plans to “alter the ecosystems” of the region for the construction of a ski center in the middle of the desert. 

On Tuesday, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) awarded the organization of this winter competition to Neom, a futuristic megacity under construction in the mountainous desert of Trojena, in the northwest of the oil-rich Gulf state.    

Located 50 kilometers from the Red Sea coastline, this mountainous sector experiences temperatures that “drop below zero degrees in winter and where temperatures throughout the year are typically 10 degrees cooler” than the rest of the world. country, claim its promoters on their website, without mentioning the issue of rainfall.

Trojena, which should be completed in 2026, will include year-round ski slopes, an artificial lake of water, chalets, mansions and luxury hotels, according to the same source.

“You are changing a whole natural ecosystem (…) and this can even have repercussions on neighboring ecosystems,” warned Ahmad al-Droubi, a Greenpeace official for the North Africa and Middle East region. 

“This project will need a constant supply of water, which means it will use huge amounts of energy in the long run,” he said. “And even if it will be powered by renewable energy, it's a waste of energy.” 

Neom is a multi-hundred billion dollar complex run by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman that is trying to to give an environmentally friendly image to the kingdom, the largest oil exporter in the world. 

“Do we really need all this?” asked Ahmed el-Droubi . 

“Excessive development and construction consumes vast amounts of energy and spreads huge amounts of emissions that perpetuate the climate crisis,” he added.

The Asian Winter Games include competitions in skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating, totaling 47 events, including 28 on snow and 19 on ice, according to the OCA.