Saudi Gazette reportRIYADH
— Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive project to build one of the world's mega cultural, sports and entertainment cities in Al-Qiddiya, southwest of Riyadh. It will have modern recreational facilities including a safari and a Six Flags theme park.
Work on the multibillion riyal project will start next year and its first phase will be opened to the public in 2022. The state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is the main investor, recently unveiled the park's logo.
The innovative logo reflects the geographical nature of Al-Qiddiya, a beautiful place 40 km southwest of the capital city. Inspired by the Tuwaiq mountains, the perpendicular lines in the logo reflect the potential of young Saudi men and women.
"It epitomizes the project's goal of developing an outstanding entertainment center for Saudis," said a senior official, who requested anonymity. It also aims to make Riyadh one of the best 100 cities in the world for living.
The project's identity shows the region's heritage and reflects the beauty and splendor of the place. Al-Qiddiya is designed to become an important landmark, meeting cultural, sports and entertainment requirements of future generations.
It is also considered a qualitative investment initiative. "The project will bring together a number of entertainment facilities that would support the Kingdom's Vision 2030," the official said.
"Al-Qiddiya will contribute to Saudi Arabia's diversification drive and boost national economic development," he said, adding that the project would create a large number of job opportunities for Saudi men and women.Al-Qiddiya will have six major components: The fun city, sports facilities, car and cycle race courses, water adventures and ice games, natural attractions and cultural and heritage events. The project includes resorts, hotels and residential units on about 100 miles of sandy coastline on the Red Sea.
US-based Six Flags announced in June that it had begun talks with the Saudi government to build theme parks as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 efforts to expand its entertainment sector and diversify the economy.
Chief executive Jim Reid-Anderson said later in the year that the company would build three parks in Saudi Arabia, with each costing between $300 million and $500 million.
The Vision 2030 reform program, which was unveiled by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, contains plans to shed the Kingdom's austere reputation, wean the economy off oil and create jobs for young Saudis.
The government wants people to have more fun at home and take fewer vacations abroad. Its sovereign wealth fund PIF will create a company to invest in the sector and forge deals with strategic partners.
The company's investments will include an entertainment complex to be launched by 2019, the official said.
"By the end of 2030, the company's projects aim to serve more than 50 million visitors annually and create more than 22,000 jobs in the Kingdom, which will contribute around SR8 billion to the GDP," the official said.
Many Saudis vacation abroad and travel to neighboring countries on public holidays and weekends for fun. About a million Saudis visited Dubai alone in 2017. Vision 2030 aims to double the share of household spending that goes to family entertainment to 6 percent by 2030. Saudi Arabia wants to boost the tourist numbers to 30 million by 2030.