Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build 20 entertainment centres, including a 100,000 square-metre entertainment complex in Riyadh.
The projects will be developed by the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (SEVEN), a unit of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund that was established last year. SEVEN received initial funding of SR10 billion ($2.67 billion), and former Disney executive Bill Ernest was hired to run it.
The company’s projects are hoped to attract more than 50 million visitors a year, according to the PIF. The projects will create more than 22,000 direct jobs and contribute $2 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2030.
The Riyadh project will feature “a distinctive modern design,” according to company chairman Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Dawoud. He added that it will be “the first of its kind, with green and open areas and equipped for sports activities, entertainment and live shows.”
“We aim to make the area a go-to entertainment destination in which families can have picnics, enjoy the arts, relax and get some exercise and fresh air,” he said.
SEVEN plans to build 20 entertainment centres around the country. It comes during a time of change for Saudi as the economy moves away from reliance on oil.
There are 4 “giga projects” currently under construction in Saudi: Qiddiya, Al-Ula, Neom and the Red Sea Project. In September the Public Investment Fund announced a new uber-luxury resort called Amaala.
Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with the projects, despite international backlash surrounding the death of a journalist.
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.