Posted with permission from WND
Mecca, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual home of Islam

Mecca, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual home of Islam

It is planned to extend over multiple nations and to dwarf New York City at 33 times its size. The costs are expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars, and it is already attracting investments from some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.

It's Neom, the new mega-city planned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon.

Located on the Red Sea coast, the city will have a special legal status within Saudi Arabia and will supposedly be fully automated, with robots outnumbering humans.

The city is also supposed to be powered entirely by renewable energy sources, feature free high-speed Internet and will extend over 10,231 square miles, crossing the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. The crown prince also spoke of the kingdom's willingness to embrace what he called a "normal" life, promoting a form of Islam that "translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness."

Saudi Arabia has debuted a flashy promotional video intended to attract foreign investment, vowing to build a center for global culture with "nothing to hold you back."

"No set ways of thinking, no restrictions, no divisions, no excuses," claims the narrator, speaking in a British accent. "Just endless potential. This is the blank page you need to write humanity's next chapter. Neom ... a part of the world set aside for those who want to change the world."

The global financial elite are already rallying around the project. The Economist proclaimed:

"At the launch were an ebullient Masayoshi Son, the Japanese head of a $100bn ‘Vision Fund', and Stephen Schwarzman, head of Blackstone, a private-equity giant. Klaus Kleinfeld, a former boss of Arconic, Alcoa and Siemens, is to be NEOM's chief executive. The prospect of creating a dynamic zone without the barriers to enterprise found elsewhere in the country has such people genuinely enthused."

Such grandiose pronouncements already are drawing criticism. The kingdom has already tried to construct the "King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh," billed as the "world's next great economic city."

But despite a projected population of 2 million people, there are only 5,000 permanent residents. There are also doubts whether Saudi Arabia's bureaucracy can effectively administer such a massive project. In addition, the fall in oil prices is limiting the amount of cash the Saudis have to fund such an expansive project.

But another critic is worried about the more disturbing implications of the plan. Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of "The Islamic Antichrist," believes he has solved the biblical riddle of "Mystery Babylon" in his book of that title.

And he argues the location of the end times' city of evil is in Saudi Arabia, making the kingdom's newest plans to become an economic superpower deeply worrisome.

One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture – solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of "Mystery Babylon." Available now in the WND Superstore.

"Throughout church history, interpreters, commentators and students of the Bible have struggled to understand the identity of a last days city known as ‘Babylon the Great' (Revelation 17-18)," Richardson told WND.

"Many have looked to the city of Rome as the fulfillment, while others have looked to Jerusalem, or New York City. Others have been awaiting a city to be rebuilt on the literal site of the ancient Babylon about 50 miles south of Baghdad in modern day Iraq. In my book ‘Mystery Babylon,' I suggested the kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be a more appropriate, and even more biblically defensible position. Specifically, I look to the city of Mecca, the single greatest city of idolatry that mankind has ever produced.

"Well over a billion and a half people bow down five times daily and pray toward that great city. The mosque in its center which houses the famous Kabba, or cube-shaped shrine that Muslims pray toward, is literally the single most visited location in the whole earth, with millions upon multiplied millions of religious pilgrims visiting each year."

Richardson does not take seriously Saudi claims of favoring a "tolerant" form of Islam.

"Saudi Arabia is the single greatest source of funding for the spread of radical Wahhabi Islam all over the earth," he said. "Over the past 40 years, the Saudis have spent roughly $150 billion to build mosques and fill them with radical Wahhabi hate preachers all over the earth. They have arguably spent more to spread Wahhabism around the earth than the entire mission spending of the global Protestant church. From any given madrassa in Pakistan to the mosque in your town or city, it is likely it was paid for by the Saudi royal family. No other nation in the earth has done as much as the Saudis to spread a false religion throughout the earth in such a way that its fundamental character has been so permanently impacted."

Richardson believes the effort to build a new "mega city" supports his claim "Mystery Babylon" will be located within Saudi Arabia.

"Students of biblical prophecy have long noted that the book of Revelation speaks not simply of a city, but of a ‘mega-city' that will emerge in the last days," he observed. "Consider the massive building projects taking place in and around Mecca and Jeddah, which will soon feature the world's newest and tallest building, dwarfing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Just to the north, the Saudis have been quietly building the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which is slated to become the region's most technologically advanced sea port. All three cities – Jeddah, Mecca and KAEC – will soon be linked by a high-speed rail line which will allow anyone to get from one city to the next in less than 30 minutes.

"There is no doubt that this emerging megalopolis will match all of the unique descriptions of the last days Babylon, combining idolatry, religious power and economic power into one desert sea-port. It is for this reason that students of God's Word are taking a fresh and serious look at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its relationship to biblical prophecy. Now, the Saudis have announced this massive project to the north of Mecca and Jeddah. Truly, this would fulfill the description of a ‘mega-city' as mentioned in the Book of Revelation."

Richardson, a frequent critic of Saudi influence on American politicians, acknowledges the kingdom will find it difficult to realize its breathtaking ambitions. Nonetheless, he warns the rapid expansion of Saudi influence throughout the world and the construction of a sprawling metropolis straight out of the pages of Scripture should command the attention of faithful Christians.

"Any watchful student of prophecy will be paying very close attention," he said. "We should be paying attention not only to ‘Neom,' but to all that is now unfolding in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the ancient and modern day fountainhead of a violent false religion now bursting out into the nations."

One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture – solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of "Mystery Babylon" Available now in the WND Superstore.