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Ego-mad Saudis unveil plan for 1,300km ‘luxury train cruise’ dubbed ‘Dream of the Desert’ in latest £43million project

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SAUDIA Arabia has revealed its latest ambitious plan for a luxury train cruise costing £43million as it attempts to become the “centre of the world”.

The Middle Eastern nation’s pretentious skyscrapers, mega-cities and flying cars are all part of trillion-dollar initiatives designed to represent Saudi superiority.

Saudi Arabia has introduced its first high-speed luxury train

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Saudi Arabia has introduced its first high-speed luxury trainCredit: Arsenale S.P.A./Saudi Arabia Railways
The 800-mile-long route will stretch across the most stunning desert landscapes in the country

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The 800-mile-long route will stretch across the most stunning desert landscapes in the countryCredit: Arsenale S.P.A./Saudi Arabia Railways
Dubbed 'Dream of Dessert', the train will be the most luxurious in the entire Middle East

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Dubbed ‘Dream of Dessert’, the train will be the most luxurious in the entire Middle EastCredit: Arsenale S.P.A./Saudi Arabia Railways

Saudi Arabia officially opened its doors to foreign tourists in 2019 – and has been going all-out to lure international visitors in a desperate bid to grab the centre spot on the world stage.

Through massive investments as part of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, the nation has been unveiling wildly ambitious projects funded by oil billions at an unprecedented rate.

Now the country is launching the first luxury train to be used in the Saudi Kingdom after striking a $53.33 million partnership with Italian hospitality company Arsenale Group.

Dubbed “Dream of the Dessert”, the new train will offer “luxury train cruise” journeys from the capital city of Riyadh to Qurayyat, which is situated close to the northern border with Jordan, the state media reports.

The 800-mile-long route will stretch across the most stunning desert landscapes in the country, passing through the city of Hail.

A press release issued by the Saudi government described the design of the train will be inspired by “Saudi style and tradition”.

Passengers will be able to book one or two-night trips, with a maximum capacity of 82 passengers.

Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale said: “The initial production phases of the Dream of the Desert carriages in Italy have recently commenced, and we can’t wait for the debut of our first train in the kingdom in the coming years,” Barletta said in an official statement.”

Carrying trains at speeds of up to 186 mph, the rail network is expected to eventually stretch all the way across the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Enhancements are also being made to existing lines in the country’s northwest, with more high-speed services to come.

In line with the megalomania vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi has been creating mega projects worth unfathomable amounts of money.

The Middle Eastern nation is set to spend more than $175billion every year on mega projects between 2025 and 2028 – with about $1.3trillion of major projects in the works.

But beneath the glitzy facade lies a story of threats, forced evictions and bloodshed.

Many projects have faced fierce criticism over human rights abuses – including the $500billion Neom project where tribes were shoved out of their homeland, imprisoned or executed.

At least 20,000 members of the Huwaitat tribe face eviction, with no information about where they will live in the future.

Authorities in the port city of Jeddah also demolished many houses to implement Saudi’s development plans – with thousands of locals evicted illegally.

One campaigner claimed: “Neom is built on Saudi blood.”

Jeed Basyouni, Middle East director of the human rights organisation Reprieve, told DW: “We have seen, time and again, that anyone who disagrees with the crown prince, or gets in his way, risks being sentenced to jail or to death.”

In 2022, Saudi Arabia sentenced three tribesmen to death for refusing to leave the desert site of the futuristic supercity Neom.

The trio from the Howeitat tribe had protested against their forcible eviction from the northern Tabuk province to make way for the ultra-modern metropolis.

Inside Saudi Arabia’s £1trillion investment

SAUDI Arabia is set to spend $175billion every year on mega projects between 2025 and 2028.

Here are some of the most ambitious projects the Middle Eastern country plans to launch by 2030.

Neom & The Line – Neom is set to be a Jetsons-style ultra-modern metropolis in contrast to the other very conservative parts of the desert kingdom.

Backed by Saudi’s $500billion Private Investment Fund – the group which bought Newcastle United – the plans for Neom are so ambitious that some of the technology doesn’t even exist yet.

Planning docs show the city will have flying taxis – a vehicle depicted in science fiction films such as Blade Runner and Back to the Future II.

The most striking thing about Neom is a mirrored megastructure called The Line – a 110-mile, 500m tall and 200m wide mirrored building that will connect Neom to the rest of the kingdom.

Red Sea Project – The Red Sea Project is a tourism development on an archipelago of Saudi Arabian islands with its dedicated airport. 

It’s set to be built on 90 undeveloped islands between Umluj and Al Wajh on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

Super Cave Hotel – Also part of Neom, Leyja will be a jaw-dropping hotel complex carved into the walls of a giant canyon.

Directors of the project claim it will open its doors to tourists in 2024 – despite not being built yet.

It will have three state-of-the-art hotels, designed by world-leading architects to blend in with the natural surroundings that make up 95 per cent of the futuristic city.

The hotels will have 120 luxurious rooms and will operate completely sustainably to provide “distinct experiences”.

Future City Epicon – Epicon is the latest megalomaniac development to be announced by Neom on November 15.

This futuristic coastal city will feature residential beach villas, hotels, and a luxurious resort.

Located on the Gulf of Aqaba, Epicon will be comprised of two ultra-modern towers, measuring 738ft and 908ft.

The sky-high destination will be home to 41 hotels and luxury homes, offering 14 suites and hotel apartments.

Close to the pair of luxury towers, Epicon’s very own resort will be located, featuring 120 rooms and 45 stunning residential beach villas.

Epicon will also offer a beach club, spas, an array of recreational activities and water sports, culinary options for every palate, and the natural beauty of the shorelines in Neom.

The luxury train will offer journeys from the capital city of Riyadh to Qurayyat

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The luxury train will offer journeys from the capital city of Riyadh to QurayyatCredit: Arsenale S.P.A./Saudi Arabia Railways

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