Planned resort Trojena in Saudi Arabia has been awarded the 2029 Asian Winter Games ©Twitter

The yet-to-be-built Saudi resort of Trojena has been rubber-stamped as the host for the 2029 edition of the Asian Winter Games at the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) General Assembly here today. 

The facility will be be the Gulf's first outdoor ski resort.

It forms part of the $500 billion (£448 billion/€510 billion) Neom project spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trojena was the only candidate for the 2029 Asian Winter Games, which have not been held since 2017 as the OCA has struggled to find hosts.

Saudi Arabia, where temperatures rarely drop below eight degrees Celsius except in the Sarawat Mountains, will become the first West Asian country to stage the event.

The resort is set to be powered by renewable energy, and a ski village, luxurious family and wellness facilities, the region’s largest freshwater lake, and an interactive nature reserve also feature among the plans.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SAOC) and vice-president of the OCA, chaired the group which presented its proposals to the Executive Board yesterday.

He was joined by Neom's chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr and managing director Jan Paterson.

SAOC vice-president Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Bin Abdulaziz was accompanied by ice hockey player Sadeem Altuhami and Saudi Arabia's first Olympic skier Fayik Abdi in providing details of the plans for the 2029 Asian Winter Games to the General Assembly.

Prince Abdulaziz claimed that the sustainability ambitions of the project have "led the way" in the realm of sport.

He outlined plans for 47 medal events for men and women, and said that the initiative is fully backed by the SAOC, the Paralympic Committee of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Government.

Al-Nasr explained the strategic importance of the proposed location in the north-west of Saudi Arabia and the importance of renewable energy, while Patterson vowed that the facilities would be available to Asian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) throughout the year for training purposes.

Paterson added that artificial snow would be used as part of the project in addition to the natural snow, with "up to 70 per cent" of that used provided by snow melt.

Prince Fahad insisted that Trojena would be the "most athlete-centric Asian Winter Games in history".

"Trojena and Neom are already changing global perspectives, just think how much more would be possibly hosting your Asian Winter Games," Prince Abdulaziz concluded in his remarks to delegates.

The futuristic Trojena resort will lead the way in sustainability, Saudi Arabia officials told the OCA General Assembly ©Neom
The futuristic Trojena resort will lead the way in sustainability, Saudi Arabia officials told the OCA General Assembly ©Neom

After Trojena was confirmed as the host for the 2029 Asian Winter Games, Prince Abdulaziz declared the award a step forward for Saudi Arabia.

"This is a great victory for the Saudi nation and Gulf countries people due to the generous support offered to the Saudi sports sector that significantly contributes to the progress of sport and all other fields in the Kingdom to deliver the objectives of the Saudi 2030 vision," he said.

"This achievement also shed light on the enormous potential and the outstanding infrastructure of Saudi Arabia to host and organise international-level sports competitions and Games successfully."

Al-Nasr added: "Trojena will have a suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make the Winter Games edition in Trojena an unprecedented global event."

Sport has formed a key part of bin Salman's attempts to promote Saudi Arabia on a global stage, and the Games feature as part of a sports winter tourism venue.

The country had already been awarded next year's World Combat Games, the 2025 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and the 2034 Asian Games, and hosted numerous professional boxing fights and a Formula One Grand Prix.

Water sports events at the Riyadh 2034 Asian Games are also due to be held in Neom.

A Saudi-led bid including Egypt and Greece for the 2030 FIFA World Cup has been mooted, with bin Salman enjoying cordial relations with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Critics of the Saudi regime have accused it of seeking to distract from its record on human rights through sportswashing.

The state-ordered assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, its role in the bombing in Yemen, harsh restrictions in place on women's rights and its use of the death penalty are among the criticisms laid against Saudi Arabia.