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

1 / 5
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)
2 / 5
Saudi Arabia King Salman arrives to lay the foundation stone at Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 28, 2018. (SPA)
3 / 5
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)
4 / 5
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)
5 / 5
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. 


Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

Updated 12 August 2020

Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

RIYADH: The College of Arts and Design at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) announced the introduction of two new programs in animation and photography in the new academic year on Sunday.

The decision was made in response to the needs of the Saudi labor market and falls in line with the goals of the Vision 2030 initiative. Animation and photography join fashion and textile design, sculpture, printmaking, and graphic design and digital media as arts degrees offered by PNU.

Dr. Maha Khayyat, dean of the College of Design and Art, spoke about the programs and said that they were curated with the graduates’ working futures in mind.

“The College of Designs and Arts is keen to integrate its various specializations and the participation of the students enrolled in them in joint projects to work together, and training them to join the labor market,” said Khayyat.

The animation program will include courses on designing cartoon characters and the basics of writing films and sound. It will give graduates the skills to create animated films and to integrate into the industry on a local, regional, or even global scale. Khayyat said that the students’ work could help to highlight Saudi culture and enhance national identity.

The photography program provided students with skills in both still and moving photography. Graduates will be well-equipped to handle any type of professional photography, from product shoots and fashion shows to photojournalism.

The news was welcomed by professionals in both fields. The animation industry in Saudi Arabia has been enjoying unprecedented success this year. The hugely popular YouTube animated series Masameer, from the Saudi Myrkott studio, was adapted into a full-length feature film and played in cinemas across the Kingdom in January. Saudi animation studio Manga Productions debuted the country’s first anime series in the same month entitled “Future’s Folktales”, in collaboration with Japan’s legendary TOEI Animation studios.

Farah Arif, a senior animator at Manga Productions who studied computer science, told Arab News that it was about time studying animation became a viable option for Saudi creatives.

“I wish the opportunity had been made available to me. There’s a huge market for animators in Saudi Arabia, especially with the film industry gaining popularity. Saudi creatives finally have a chance to make a living off their art, and to pursue the study of it in their home countries. It’s a huge step forward,” she said.

She also recommends that anyone thinking of pursuing a career in the arts to do so, given the current environment and level of support from the government.

“Most of us in the industry have been successful without the relevant degrees. Imagine what you could do if you actually had one. The opportunity is there, so you can’t use the lack of a degree course as an excuse anymore. If you have the passion and the drive, go for it.”