Saudi Arabia pushes back launch of ‘entertainment city’

Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya Project near Riyadh is part of a series of multi-billion dollar projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversify. (SPA)
Updated 24 April 2018

Saudi Arabia pushes back launch of ‘entertainment city’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it has delayed by three days the launch of an “entertainment city” near Riyadh, part of a series of multi-billion dollar projects as the oil-reliant Kingdom seeks to diversify.
King Salman had been scheduled on Wednesday to launch construction of the 334-square kilometer project in Qiddiya, southwest of Riyadh, touted as the Kingdom’s answer to Disneyland.
“King Salman will inaugurate next Saturday the Qiddiya project, which is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the Kingdom,” the state-run Saudi Press Agency said, without explaining the delay.
Construction for the first phase of development, which would include high-end theme parks, motor sport facilities and a safari area, is expected to be completed in 2022, 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 has said the project in the entertainment-starved Kingdom is expected to draw foreign investment, but gave no figures.
Saudi Arabia has dazzled investors with plans for three hi-tech “giga projects,” funded in part by its sovereign wealth fund, but skeptics question their viability.
Aside from Qiddiya, 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.
Such projects are the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, architect of a sweeping reform program dubbed “Vision 2030.”
The reforms stem partly from a 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 said it would 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.


2 more Houthi drones shot down by Saudi-led Coalition forces

Updated 26 August 2019

2 more Houthi drones shot down by Saudi-led Coalition forces

  • Three drones, six ballistic missiles launched toward Saudi Arabia by Houthis in a span of 24 hours
  • All six missiles and three drones were shot down by Coalition air defenses

JEDDAH: Two more drones launched by Houthi "terrorists" from Sanaa toward Saudi Arabia were shot down early Monday, the ninth hit in a span of 24 hours, Coalition forces supporting Yemen's legitimate government said .

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said the two drones were intercepted and shot down in Yemeni airspace by Saudi-led air defense forces.

On Sunday evening, six ballistic missiles fired from Yemen were also intercepted by the coalition as they headed towards Jazan in south-west Saudi Arabia.

Al-Maliki said the missiles were launched by Houthis from Saada province "in an attempt to target civilian and civilian installations in Jazan city.” 

Earlier on Sunday, the coalition shot down a Houthi drone targeting the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt, state news agency SPA reported.

The drone attack targeting Khamis Mushayt, state was the second on the city in recent days. 

Earlier this month, 10 drones attacked the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction plant in Saudi Arabia near the UAE border. The attack caused no injuries and did not disrupt operations, Saudi Arabia said.

Al-Maliki said the attacks reflect the size of the Houthi’s losses on the battlefield in Yemen as a result “of the continuing military operations deep inside Saada governorate.”

"All attempts by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia to launch drones are doomed to fail and the coalition takes all operational procedures and best practices of engagement rules to deal with these drones to protect civilians," Al-Maliki said.