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

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. 


US State Department calls Saudi Arabia ‘important strategic partner’

Updated 25 February 2020

US State Department calls Saudi Arabia ‘important strategic partner’

  • The comments come following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the Kingdom
  • Pompeo discussed regional issues with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Monday said Saudi Arabia was an "important strategic partner" and paid tribute to the "historical relations" between the two countries.

The comments come following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the Kingdom during a tour of Middle East and African countries last week.

The State Department added that Pompeo discussed regional issues with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and said the US-Saudi Arabia relationship was a "distinct" one that went beyond confronting Iran.

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It also said that the situation in Syria was "catastrophic," while calling on Russia and Iran to do more to protect civilians and saying there was no military solution to the conflict in the country.

The department also spoke about the situation in Iraq, saying the Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, must include the Kurds and Sunnis in the formation of a government.

The US said that Iran was responsible for aggression against its interests in Iraq and said it would prevent Iraqi militias from attacking the Green Zone.