Time: April 29, 2018
JEDDAH: Saudis welcomed the launch of Qiddiya, the entertainment city and Saudis’ upcoming destination for all things fun, which will officially introduce its theme parks, motor sport facilities and safari by 2022 when its first phase is complete.
The project, 40 kilometers outside Riyadh on the Tuwaiq escarpment, will occupy 334 square kilometers, triple the size of Walt Disney World in Florida. Its aim is to boost the entertainment sector and economy in Saudi Arabia, as well as liven up the tourism industry, in support of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program, Vision 2030.
Economically, Qiddiya is one of many measures aimed at reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on oil and diversifying its economy in the cultural, entertainment and hospitality industries. Saudi economist Mohammed Suwayed believes the project will push the entertainment industry toward full growth. “Riyadh currently lacks a structured entertainment industry that caters to all segments of society.
“Qiddiya will act as an enabler to the entertainment industry and unlock huge potential and opportunities for customers and businesses.
The Public Investment Fund is also investing in building the infrastructure, and it will push the limitations placed on the industry and make it surge.”
Additionally, Qiddiya will also redirect what Saudis spend on tourism in foreign countries back into the Kingdom by creating entertainment experiences that they previously sought outside the country.
Considering that the majority of Saudis are under 30 years old, the project is a much-needed attraction, said Abdan Al-Abdan, a 27-year-old from Riyadh. The project will add a new entertaining aspect to Saudi social life, he said, especially because it is not only an amusement park but a fully-fledged entertainment city that includes sports facilities, acting as an incentive for youth to be more active.
“The project will greatly improve the quality of economical and social life,” he said. “In the short-term, Qiddiya will provide a good number of job opportunities for many Saudi citizens both in the process of building the project and after opening the first phase in 2022. In the long-term, this project will help the Kingdom with one of the many elements of the Vision 2030, which is economic sufficiency, contributing to the goal of diversification of national income that will push forward the wheel of economic development.
“In addition, the Qiddiya project will bring in foreign investors in the entertainment sector as well as in infrastructure development and human resources development,” he added.
Nora Alrifai, a 26-year-old Saudi female from Jeddah, told Arab News: “I don’t mind that it’s all the way in Riyadh, as long as it’s inside Saudi Arabia. We already have plenty of entertainment activities in the Western Province and it’s only fair to have entertainment distributed among all regions of the Kingdom.
“I believe it will be a one-of-a-kind experience as this project is unprecedented here and we’ve never had something of this caliber. I just wish that entry tickets’ pricing will be reasonable to suit all levels of society,” she said.