Beneath Saudi Arabia’s blazing sun, the largest greenhouse ever planned is taking shape. It will take visitors on a walk through Earth’s history—and into its future
A Stroll through Botanic History: The crescent-shaped greenhouse at King Abdullah International Botanical Gardens, rendered here, will be the size of 15 football fields, making it four times as big as the world’s current largest greenhouse.
It’s hard to imagine it raining in Riyadh. Less than five inches of water fall from the clouds above Saudi Arabia’s capital city each year. When the thermostat rises above 110°F, it’s not a heat wave—it’s midday. But it wasn’t always like this. A little over three million years ago, before climate-change cycles turned the area into a desert, the Arabian Peninsula’s empty riverbeds were overflowing valleys, and its dry expanses of shrubland were lush grasslands.