Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of Qiddiya Project

Qiddiya is the first integrated cultural sports entertainment destination of its kind in Saudi Arabia and will include 6 integrated sectors covering more than 300 diverse activities. (Photo courtesy of Al-Eqtisadiah)
Updated 24 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of Qiddiya Project

  • Qiddiya Project is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the Kingdom
  • The first phase will be completed by 2022

RIYADH: Saudi King Salman will launch the construction of an “entertainment city” near Riyadh Saturday, authorities said, part of a series of multi-billion dollar projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversity its oil-reliant economy.
The 334-square kilometer project in Qiddiya, southwest of Riyadh, would rival Walt Disney and include high-end theme parks, motor sport facilities and a safari park, officials say.
The facility highlights a “relentless effort to develop giga-projects that will help achieve many direct and indirect economic returns,” project official Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi was quoted as saying in a government statement on Monday.
Qiddiya chief executive Michael Reininger said he expects the project will draw foreign investors in entertainment and other sectors, but did not specify the total cost of construction.
Such projects are the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a self-styled liberal change agent who is the chief architect of the sweeping “Vision 2030” reform program.
Saudi Arabia has dazzled investors with several plans for hi-tech “giga projects,” funded in part by its sovereign wealth fund, but some skeptics question their viability in an era of cheap oil.
The Kingdom has unveiled blueprints to build NEOM, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley, in addition to the Red Sea project, a reef-fringed resort destination — both worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Analysts say the projects could create funding pressures at a time when the government faces a yawning budget deficit and growth in the Kingdom’s non-oil economy is only slowly gathering pace.
The reform stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the Kingdom has been reeling from an oil slump since 2014.
Saudis currently splurge billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighboring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain.
In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) announced it will stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of last year, and pump $64 billion in the sector in the coming decade.


Saudi Arabia is world’s energy ‘shock absorber’ says Energy Minister Al-Falih

Updated 18 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia is world’s energy ‘shock absorber’ says Energy Minister Al-Falih

  • Al-Falih told an energy event in India that it was time this balancing role was respected and acknowledged by the international community.
  • He added that the Kingdom wanted to continue playing the global balancing role that it currently plays.

RIYADH: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Monday said that the Kingdom was the world’s energy “shock absorber” and pledged to continue to offer a cushion to global supply interruptions.
He told an energy event in India that it was time this balancing role was respected and acknowledged by the international community.
His remarks come amid concerns among energy-importing nations about the recent rise in the oil price.
“We could have another unanticipated, unplanned disruption. We’ve seen Libya, we’ve seen Nigeria, we’ve seen Venezuela and we have sanctions on Iran. These supply disruptions need a shock absorber,” Al-Falih told the CERAWeek event by IHS Markit.
“The shock absorber has been, to a large part, Saudi Arabia. We have invested tens of billions of dollars to build the spare capacity which has been two to three million barrels over the years — thats equivalent of production capacity of major producers.
“It has been like a spinning reserve in an electricity system waiting to step in if there is a disruption. We’ve done it out of a sense of responsibility.”
He added that the Kingdom wanted to continue playing that global balancing role but also hoped that “the global community of nations will respect and acknowledge what Saudi Arabia has done.”
In a wide ranging address, Al-Falih also questioned the “hype” around the electric vehicle market and said that petrol and diesel engines would co-exist with emerging electric and hydrogen fuel cell technologies for much longer than some commentators expect.
Saudi Arabia is boosting its energy ties with India and Al-Falih said Saudi corporations including Aramco, SABIC and Ma’aden planned to increase investments in the country.