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

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.”


Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

 

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