Saudi Arabia looks east for next stage of entertainment revolution

SEVEN will build a theme park along with six cinemas and three new entertainment destinations in the Eastern Province.
Updated 02 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia looks east for next stage of entertainment revolution

  • Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) will build a theme park on a 100-hactare site

JEDDAH: A new amusement park and a raft of other facilities will turn the Eastern Province into a major Gulf leisure destination, developers said on Wednesday.

In its largest project to date, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, will build a theme park on a 100-hactare site in Al-Aziziyah, along with six cinemas and three new entertainment destinations in the province.

The new destinations will be in Dammam, Alkhobar and Al-Ahsa, and will feature sports areas, movie theaters, green spaces and water sports facilities similar to the projects now underway in Riyadh.

Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Dawood, Saudi Entertainment Ventures’ chairman, said: “SEVEN intends to convert the Eastern Province into an excellent entertainment destination in the Gulf based on its strategic geographic location and touristic significance within the Kingdom.”

Eastern Province’s “stunning coasts, green oases and vast deserts make it an attractive area for investment and development,” he said.

The company is focusing on developing recreation and entertainment facilities in the Eastern Province, which has a growing population of about 4.9 million. The entertainment destination in Dammam will cover an area of 330,000 square meters, while nearby Alkhobar’s facility will be built on a 360,000-square-meter  site.

SEVEN chief executive Bill Ernest said the announcements “give everyone something to be excited about.”

The projects “herald a new era of entertainment and leisure for Saudi people and visitors to the Kingdom,” he said.

“Our amusement parks and entertainment facilities will need the best talent from across Saudi Arabia, so we are looking for ambitious, energetic staff across all sectors.

“Our strategy is to replicate amusement parks, entertainment areas and movie theaters across the Kingdom, starting in Riyadh and now the Eastern Province. We are providing families with unrivalled new entertainment experiences.”


Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

Updated 31 min 19 sec ago
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Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

  • Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks
  • At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database

DHAKA: Pre-immigration facilities provided by Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrims in Bangladesh have helped reduce waiting times by several hours after their arrival at airports in the Kingdom, several of them said on Wednesday.
The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah initiative, whereby pilgrims can complete immigration at airports in their home country instead of doing it on arrival in the Kingdom.
From this year, Bangladeshi pilgrims are enjoying pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport.
“Among the 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims, this year 60,500 of them will have the opportunity to complete the immigration formalities at Dhaka airport,” Bangladeshi Religious Affairs Secretary Anisur Rahman told Arab News.
“From next year, all Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy this pre-immigration system at Dhaka airport.”
Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks. Three Saudi organizations are working at Dhaka airport to accomplish these tasks.
At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database.
In addition, at the immigration counter officials take photographs of the pilgrims, Rahman said.
“The pre-immigration system was supposed to be launched from the first Hajj flight on July 4, but due to technical issues we couldn’t do that on the first day. However, things are now running very smoothly,” he added.
Abdul Kayum Bepari, a Bangladeshi pilgrim who completed his Saudi immigration formalities at Dhaka airport, told Arab News: “It’s an amazing experience. All immigration formalities were completed within a minute. When I performed Hajj in 2011, it took more than four hours for me to complete the immigration formalities at the Saudi airport.”
Bangladeshi pilgrim Sadek Ali told Arab News: “Everything is very disciplined. This pre-immigration system has truly eased the hassle of thousands of Bangladeshi pilgrims.”
Pilgrim Bulbuli Begum told Arab News: “My Saudi immigration formalities took only a few seconds to be completed.”
Pre-immigration support for Bangladeshi pilgrims will continue until the last Hajj flight, which is scheduled on Aug. 5.
“We’re trying to ensure maximum support and comfort to the pilgrims,” said a Saudi immigration official at Dhaka airport.
“They don’t even need to worry about luggage. Once the pilgrims land at a Saudi airport, they’ll immediately board hotel-bound buses and will receive their luggage at the hotel.”