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New Saudi initiative for giant entertainment and sports city welcomed

RIYADH: An ambitious plan to build a giant 334-square kilometer sports and entertainment city near Riyadh, the first of its kind in the world, has been wholeheartedly welcomed by a cross-section of Saudi public, especially those working in the entertainment industry. The mega project announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, minister of defense, includes a Six Flags theme park inside the city.
“The proposed mega city, announced by the Deputy Crown Prince, is a major step within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Jamal Hasan Al-Mukhalafi of the Ministry of Culture & Information, here Saturday. Al-Mukhalafi said that “the project reflects the keen desire of the Saudi government to fulfil the needs of Saudi society and to cope with the global developments in all areas.”
“No doubt, the mega city is envisioned to become a major facility to host sports tournaments besides possibly giving us the ability to bid for major regional and national sports events,” said Talal Al-Arify, a director who owns a licensed production house in the Saudi capital. He expressed hopes that the mega city will have “facility for film-making, shooting documentaries, and in-house production.”
“In fact, this initiative of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will help youngsters to work and pursue their career in the entertainment and leisure sector locally,” said Al-Arify. He said that a large number of young Saudi boys and girls, who are either working in the entertainment sector or enrolled in TV/Film academies in different countries, will eventually return back, if such facilities are created in the Kingdom.
“The establishment of the cultural and entertainment city will also help to promote understanding and brotherhood,” said Dr Ibrahim Al-Qayid, founding member of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), here Saturday. He said that “the proximity to Riyadh makes this a great location for a sports and entertainment complex.”
“The mega city will also draw millions of visitors annually besides providing ... billions of dollars in commercial opportunities,” said Al-Qayid optimistically. This new sports and entertainment city, in fact, will have four geographical segments — an entertainment area, a car sports area, a general sports area and a housing and hospitality area.
Asked about his views on the plan to establish the giant entertainment city, Ghaffar Ahmed, a Pakistani actor, who co-starred in the famous “Ja Jawazat” song, said that “the mega entertainment complex will change the cultural landscape of the Kingdom.” “The city is definitely going to be one of the biggest development projects around,” added Ahmed, who is working on a few documentary projects at the moment.
Aside from gaming, culture and arts facilities, the project also involves developing residential units, world famous restaurants as well as international hotel brands. The city will be developed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed. The project comes to support the Saudi Vision 2030 by creating opportunities in different sectors for investments. The foundation stone of the project will be laid in 2018, while its first stage will be opened in 2022.

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