Construction of Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya entertainment city to start tomorrow

Construction of Qiddiya, a 334sqkm entertainment and leisure destination near Riyadh that will feature theme parks, a safari park and a motor sports facility, is due to start tomorrow.

Saudi King Salman will launch construction of the “entertainment city” at a ceremony on Wednesday. Qiddiya was first announced in April 2017 and Six Flags recently signed an agreement to develop, design and license a Six Flags-branded park for the destination.

Qiddiya shows a “relentless effort to develop giga-projects that will help achieve many direct and indirect economic returns,” project official Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi said in a government statement on Monday.

The total cost of developing the entertainment destination has not been released. However, Michael Reininger, CEO of Qiddiya, expects the project will attract foreign investors in entertainment and other sectors.

Increasing tourism has been a priority for Saudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is looking to diversify the economy from its reliance on oil.

Last September, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said that it will allocate $2.67bn to the development and rebuilding of tourism projects. In February, the kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority announced plans to invest $64bn to develop the country’s entertainment sector over the next decade.

International tourism in Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow by 5.8% per year from 2018 to 2022, according to a report from BMI Research.

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