RIYADH: Qiddiya ended the year on a high after it signed a SR3.75 billion ($1 billion) contract to build a theme park housing the world’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster in what will be the Kingdom’s entertainment city.
The Qiddiya Investment Co. penned an agreement in December with Saudi Arabia’s Almabani General Contractors and France’s Bouygues Batiment International to build the Six Flags Qiddiya theme park.
The 32 hectare-site will include 28 rides and attractions across six different themed areas.
The 4km Falcon’s Flight rollercoaster ride will be the centerpiece of the park, and will touch speeds of 250km an hour and includes a dive of 160 meters.
But the rollercoaster is just a small part of the Qiddiya giga-project that will include arts centers, festival grounds, a sports stadium, shops and restaurants, housing developments, a motor racing circuit and a golf course designed by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.
The development was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 in a bid to make Qiddiya one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
The move is in line with the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 plan to reduce the Kingdom’s reliance on oil and boost investment.
The site is also in step with the government’s moves to boost revenue from tourism from its current 3 percent to 10 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the decade.
The Qiddiya project is located south-west of Riyadh on a site that covers 367 sq. km and is 45km from the capital city Riyadh. The new city will be an hour's drive from King Khaled International Airport.
The area hopes to attract 17 million visitors a year by 2030 and is expected to contribute up to SR17 billion to the country’s gross domestic product by 2030, providing 25,000 jobs.
The project, in its early development stage, currently employs around 500 workers, 60 percent of whom are Saudis.
The Qiddiya Investment Co., which is wholly owned by sovereign wealth body the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom, has said the site plans to host international and local holidaymakers.
It said that Qiddiya will help “redirect tourism spending into the Kingdom, by providing distinct entertainment options for residents, which are currently unavailable to explore and experience without the need to travel to other countries and incur extra expenses abroad.”
QIC also plans to appeal to locals or expats looking for second homes. It expects to build 4,000 houses by 2025, and 11,000 by 2030.
With art centers, golf courses and racing circuits to build — it looks like Qiddiya’s rollercoaster riding is only just beginning.