Saudi Arabia plans new city to bring “entertainment, joy and fun”

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build a 334-sq-km "entertainment city" on the outskirts of Riyadh that will provide facilities for sports, culture and recreation. Among the attractions will be a safari and a theme park designed by Texan entertainment company Six Flags.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud told the Saudi Press Agency that the city was part of wider plans to modernise the kingdom by 2030, make Riyadh into one of the world’s top 100 cities for quality of life, as well as diversifying the economy and creating job opportunities for young people.

The aim is to design visitor attractions according to the latest international standards, and provide "entertainment, joy and fun".

The main investor in the city will be the Public Investment Fund, of which bin Salman is the chairman, although money would also be accepted from local and international sources.  

Work on site is scheduled to begin early next year, and the first phase is due to be completed in 2022.

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. Jim Reid-Anderson, its chief executive, said the company aimed to build three parks in Saudi Arabia, each costing between $300m and $500m.

The company, which has been operating amusements six the 1950s, has plans to open parks in Dubai and Zhejiang, south of Shanghai, in 2019 and Chongqing in 2020. The Saudi scheme will be devised with the help of Canadian attraction designer Forrec and Dubai Parks and Resorts.

Vision 2030 is intended to soften Saudi Arabia’s forbidding image, reduce its dependence on oil and create jobs for young Saudis.

Image: Bin Salman, deputy crown prince and new broom (Kremlin)

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