National Geographic Encounter to open up to 10 locations in the Middle East

National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey is coming to the Middle East with the first location in Saudi Arabia expected to open in 2019.

National Geographic Encounter has partnered KBW Ventures and the General Entertainment of Authority of Saudi Arabia to launch up to 10 locations for its Ocean Odyssey experience throughout the Middle East. The first of several locations in Saudi Arabia will be situated in Riyadh starting in 2019.

Ocean Odyssey is a first-of-its-kind, immersive, deep sea experience. The first location launched in New York City’s Times Square in October 2017.

“We are excited to bring this iconic brand and immersive experience into Saudi Arabia and provide premium entertainment in our country,” said Faisal Baraft, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia.

The deep-sea experience, developed and produced by SPE Partners, is a digitally-created underwater dive, bringing guests face-to-face with sharks, a humpback whale, Humboldt squids and more.

Once visitors “resurface” to land, they can learn about their experience, track their trip, and listen to sounds of the animals they have encountered along the way.

SPE assembled a world-class team of award-winning artists, including the design firm Falcon’s Creative Group and Pixomondo, the visual effects team behind Game of Thrones, to create the experience.

The whole team will be back to work on the Middle East locations.

Alexander Svezia, managing partner of SPE Partners, said: “We aim to combine the power of technology with the awe of entertainment to advance science and conservation, and KBW shares that vision.

“The General Entertainment Authority’s mission, to create a vibrant society and provide exciting entertainment and tailored experiences in Saudi Arabia, aligns perfectly. We are excited to bring ‘entertainment with purpose’ to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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. The agreement was announced during his trip to the US, which has already seen Saudi Arabia ink a deal with Six Flags to bring a new theme park to the country.

Image: c. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey.