Qiddiya to fulfill long-held amusement park dream

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Qiddiya to fulfill long-held amusement park dream

Back in the early 1990s, when I was residing in London, I got an invitation to the opening of Euro Disney outside Paris. When I got there, I was overwhelmed by the amount of entertainment and the exciting activities. I said to myself: “One day I hope to see this taking place in Saudi Arabia.” Now this dream will become a reality.

The 334-square-kilometer Qiddiya project is strategically located about 40 kilometers from the center of Riyadh, making it about an hour’s drive from King Khalid International Airport. It will be a world-class entertainment city incorporating theme parks, motorsport and other thrilling activities.

The project aims to turn Qiddiya into the Kingdom’s iconic entertainment destination. It will help in boosting the country’s economic diversification through attracting foreign investments and directing the Kingdom’s entertainment spending inside the country. In addition, the project will contribute to the creation of new jobs in the Saudi labor market.

Moreover, the project will include a real estate component, serving as vacation houses to attract residents to the area, including approximately 4,000 residential units to be completed by 2025, increasing to about 11,000 by 2030.

Since Qiddiya is located near the capital, I believe it will be the ideal place for companies and organizations to carry out their off-site business meetings, conferences, retreats, and workshops.

With the plan choosing Al-Qiddiya as a base to launch Richard Branson’s commercial Virgin Galactic flights to space, Al-Qiddiya not only will be a local and regional entertainment center, but a destination for international tourists.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini

The giga-project is expected to be completed over the course of five phases. It is currently in phase three, with the foundation stone expected to be laid by the end of June, while it is hoped the doors will open by October 2022.

Many Saudis visit neighboring countries for vacations and public holidays, but the Kingdom wants to capture up to a quarter of the $20 billion currently spent overseas every year by Saudis seeking entertainment. 

The Public Investment Fund will play a key role in securing the necessary financing for the initial phases of the project. The PIF can leverage its portfolio companies to access a large number of potential investors and operators. Events such as the BMG Economic Forum will also aim to promote the project globally in order to reach international investors.

Last year, US amusement park company Six Flags’ Chief Executive Jim Reid-Anderson said the firm aimed to build three parks in Saudi Arabia, with each costing between $300 million and $500 million. An agreement between Six Flags and the PIF was officially signed last week to develop and design a new park within the Qiddiya project.

Also, because of the geography of the area, I hope the General Sports Authority will include a polo field in the development. This would go along with the creation of a Saudi Polo Federation, meaning I will have my dream to host a Polo Cup in Saudi Arabia.

With the plan choosing Al-Qiddiya as a base to launch Richard Branson’s commercial Virgin Galactic flights to space, Al-Qiddiya not only will be a local and regional entertainment center, but a destination for international tourists.

 

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view