Six Flags signs agreement to develop park in Saudi Arabia

Six Flags Entertainment yesterday signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to develop a theme park just outside of Riyadh.

The theme park will form part of Qiddiya, the 334sqkm entertainment and leisure destination that will also feature a safari park as well as other sports, cultural and recreational facilities. Six Flags has been in talks with the Saudi government about the park since Qiddiya was first announced in April 2017.

The theme park operator has entered an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is the lead investor in the entertainment destination project. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it will see Six Flags will develop, design and license a Six Flags-branded park for Qiddiya with an expected opening in 2022.

“Innovation is synonymous with the Six Flags brand, and our international licensing business provides a unique opportunity to continue our strong global growth,” said David McKillips, president of Six Flags International Development Company.

“We see great potential in the Saudi Arabian market and look forward to collaborating with the PIF to create a world-class entertainment destination for Saudi’s young and dynamic population.”

Located 40km from downtown Riyadh, Qiddiya will provide an unprecedented leisure option for the seven million plus residents of the Saudi capital.

Michael Reininger, chief executive of Qiddiya, said: “Our goal is to create an exciting one-of-a-kind destination that will draw visitors from throughout Saudi Arabia to experience record-breaking roller coasters, innovative rides and attractions, as well as the sporting and cultural facilities that Qiddiya will offer. By partnering with a global leader, we know that we are going to deliver something exceptional.”

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. A 35-year ban on cinemas has also been lifted, allowing Wanda Group to build and operate cinemas in the country.

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.

Six Flags is also currently developing parks in China with Six Flags Zhejiang and Six Flags Chongqing expected to open in 2019 and 2020 respectively.