Saudi Arabia to launch an entertainment city

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will launch the construction of an entertainment city near Riyadh on Wednesday, as part of a series of multi-billion dollar projects as the kingdom further to diversifies its economy.

The 334-square kilometre project in Qiddiya, southwest of Riyadh, will rival Disneyland and include high-end theme parks, motor sport facilities and a safari park.

Qiddiya chief executive Michael Reininger said he expects the project will draw foreign investors in entertainment and other sectors, but did not specify the total cost of construction.

The project highlights a “relentless effort to develop giga-projects that will help achieve many direct and indirect economic returns”, project official Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi was quoted as saying in a government statement on Monday.

Saudi Arabia has released several plans for hi-tech giga projects, partly funded by its sovereign wealth fund, including NEOM, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley and the Red Sea project, a resort destination; both worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Saudis currently splurge billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighbouring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain, these projects will keep spending inside the economy.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) announced it will stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of last year, and pump $64 billion into the entertainment sector over the next ten years.