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. 


Dr. Lilak Al-Safadi, president of the Saudi Electronic University

Updated 05 July 2020

Dr. Lilak Al-Safadi, president of the Saudi Electronic University

Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh recently announced the appointment of Dr. Lilak Al-Safadi as president of the Saudi Electronic University. She becomes the first woman to chair a Saudi university that includes both male and female students.

She has worked as executive director for more than 20 years in business development, business consulting and strategic leadership, and accumulated experience in project management.

She has also published more than 50 research papers and articles on research topics such as e-commerce and artificial and commercial intelligence.

Al-Safadi was the vice president and national technology officer at Microsoft and is a faculty member at the King Saud University, Riyadh.

She also worked as a consultant to the governor of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat), and a consultant to the vice presidency for planning, quality and development at the Saudi Electronic University. 

Al-Safadi is a graduate from the University of Wollongong, Australia with a Ph.D. in computer science which she completed in 2002; she majored in software engineering and completed her master’s in computer science in 1995. 

In a telephone interview with Al-Ekhbariya channel, Al-Safadi said that her appointment had many implications not only for empowering women and enhancing their role, but also as an indication of the Kingdom’s commitment to women’s equity at all levels, including equal opportunities in leadership and competition.