RIYADH: Mario Centola, the vice president of international operations and business development at Six Flags Entertainment, said government support for Qiddiyah was facilitating expansion that would help the company attract tourists and business to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at the Misk Global Forum, Centola stated his firm was aiming to build “the biggest, fastest, longest, steepest roller coaster by far in the world ... you will only get to experience that type of ride and this type of park right outside Riyadh.”
He explained during his participation in a session at the forum, entitled “Entertainment is serious business,” that the efforts made for Qiddiyah would make it the city of the future, pointing out that the latest technology would be in every part of the city.
He mentioned how innovation in the Kingdom was creating great job opportunities, especially in the field of entertainment, and he called on Saudis to seize the opportunities ahead of them.
Also speaking, the Spanish producer and CEO of Lola Films, Andrés Gomes, pointed out that his relationship with Saudi Arabia began 10 years ago.
The Oscar-winner and mind behind the “Born a King” biopic of King Faisal explained that the story of the Saudi monarch was a great external promotion for the Kingdom, given its international storyline, with 70 percent of its events taking place in the UK.
“We have to make films that people like … Saudi Arabia should be very careful to not be invaded by foreign cultures for your movies and TV,” he said.
“Of course, you have not had the time to develop your own productions, but that’s what you have to ask your government for — you have to ask for support.”
Shinji Shimizu, senior director and producer at Toei Animation, talked about his own first visit to Saudi Arabia a decade ago, and his vision of the interest of young Saudis in Japanese animators.
“Animation was established 63 years ago. I had been working with the company for 42 years … Japanese animation was gradually enjoyed by young people, by lots of people.
“Young people are very talented and they absorb very quickly, and they want to express Saudi culture. We are working with a Japanese crew and we are having a tremendously enjoyable time together.”
Alabbas Bin Alabbas, the founder of Alsahar Animation, stressed the importance of this period for the Saudi people, as the country opens up to entertainment and the arts, stressing the importance of animation as a magnet for children, in addition to the great energy that exists among young people encouraged and supported by the government.
“I think now it’s our turn to contribute to the world, to show who we are, what our stories are,” he said.