Curtain up: Work begins on KSA’s landmark entertainment, sport and culture destination

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Saudi Arabia King Salman lays the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh is part of a series of projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia King Salman arrives to lay the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia King Salman lays the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh is part of a series of projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia King Salman lays the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh is part of a series of projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia King Salman lays the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh is part of a series of projects as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
Updated 29 April 2018
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Curtain up: Work begins on KSA’s landmark entertainment, sport and culture destination

  • Located southwest of Riyadh, the project is considered to be one of the largest entertainment parks in the world
  • The 334-square kilometer project will rival Walt Disney and include high-end theme parks

RIYADH: With fireworks illuminating the dramatic Tuwaiq escarpment, hundreds of guests from inside the Kingdom and around the world had a taste on Saturday of the fun to come at Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia’s first entertainment, sport and cultural city.

The fireworks were triggered by King Salman, as he put in place the last baton of the Qiddiya logo, part of the ground-breaking ceremony for the project 40 km west of Riyadh. 

He was accompanied by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chairman of the Public Investment Fund, whose Vision 2030 plan aims to boost the entertainment sector and economy in Saudi Arabia, and energize the tourism industry.

Qiddiya is one of many measures aimed at reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on oil and diversifying its economy. It is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city by 2030, with a total area of 334 square kilometers, surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida, which is 110 sq km.

“In creating Qiddiya, we are building a brighter future,” said its CEO, Michael Reininger. “One filled with culture, sports, entertainment and the arts that responds to the Saudi people’s desire for new and accessible activities that enrich their lives.

“Qiddiya will also create a self-sustaining ecosystem. Based on our five cornerstones, which are parks and attractions; motion and mobility; nature and environment; sports and wellness; and culture, arts, and education, our development will be supported by retail, residential, and hospitality offerings to form a fully-integrated entertainment destination.”

After Reininger’s opening address, which was preceded by the national anthem and a recitation of the Qur’an, Aa’ed Yousef performed a song with lyrics by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen, a gift to King Salman.

The audience was then shown a video on the wide range of tourist attractions that Qiddiya promises, including theme parks, sports facilities, motorsport tracks, and nature and safari experiences.

Considering that almost two-thirds of Saudis are under 35 years old, the project is a much-needed attraction, said Abdan Al-Abdan, 27, from Riyadh. 


Majlis culture brings a little Saudi warmth to freezing Davos

At a five-star hotel in Davos, the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority has sponsored a prominent display proclaiming ‘The future-forward economy — Invest Saudi.’ (AN photo)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Majlis culture brings a little Saudi warmth to freezing Davos

  • The Misk Pavilion is one of the many signs of the Kingdom’s enthusiastic involvement in the world’s biggest gathering of political, business and thought leaders

DAVOS: From the sub-zero temperatures of the icy Davos Promenade you are ushered through a glass door into the warmth of a desert majlis, with works by young Saudi artists on the walls and traditional Arabian delicacies being served. It is quite a culture shock.

The Davos majlis is the work of the Misk Global Forum (MGF), the international arm of the organization founded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote youth empowerment. 

The Misk Pavilion is one of the many signs of the Kingdom’s enthusiastic involvement in the world’s biggest gathering of political, business and thought leaders.

“The Kingdom’s participation in WEF 2019 highlights its role in developing the regional and global economy, and reflects the nation’s continuing ambition for sustainable development,” said Bader Al-Asaker, head of the crown prince’s private office and chairman of the Misk Initiatives Center. 

The Saudi delegation’s HQ overlooks the main congress hall, inside the Davos security cordon. 

At a nearby five-star hotel, the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority has sponsored a prominent display proclaiming: “The future-forward economy — Invest Saudi.” 

This is the second year Misk has been prominent at Davos. As well as the majlis, its pavilion offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in modern Saudi art via a virtual reality tour of the work of four young artists.

Misk is organizing daily events there, building up to a power breakfast with leading executives on Friday on the theme of youth empowerment.

“In an age of profound economic disruption, we regard young people as the problem-solvers, not a problem to be solved,” said MGF executive manager Shaima Hamidaddin.

“We’re holding interactive discussions on how to empower young people to be the architects of the future economy, not the tenants of it.”