King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia attended the groundbreaking ceremony of a huge entertainment resort. The building of this resort is a way to open the economy and to ease social restrictions.
Qiddiya, which is about an hour away from Riyadh, is being built on a 334 sq. km site. This makes it 2-1/2 times larger than Disney World.
The resort will include a Six Flags theme park, water parks, motor sports, cultural events, and vacation homes. According to a spokesperson, Qiddiya is expecting to attract 1.5 million visitors annually when the first phase opens in 2022.
Meanwhile, the local media stated that the cost of the infrastructure alone would be 30 billion riyals or $8 billion. They also said that the project would eventually be worth tens of billions of riyals.
Just a week after the country opened its first cinema after almost four-decade ban, the author of reforms, Prince Mohammed, and his father attended the lavish launch ceremony.
“Today, we invite investors, creators, and operators from around the world to explore what a one-of-a-kind project like Qiddiya has to offer,” Michael Reininger, CEO of Qiddiya, stated.
“We will seek the best to help us, as we invent a new entertainment experience for all residents and visitors to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” added Reininger.
Qiddiya Seeks for a Broader Range of Financing
According to Reininger, Qiddiya was looking for a broad range of financing from local and international sources, with bonds, direct investment, and other tools to supplement the majority contribution from the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is the main Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
However, Reininger did not say the specified expected investment value for Qiddiya except to describe it as “incredibly sizeable.”
There are already 50 people who are directly employed by Qiddiya. With hundreds more contracted as local suppliers and global advisors. By the 2022, those numbers are expected to reach 55,000.
Meanwhile, the project is aiming to be the center of entertainment, cultural, and sports activity in a country that has shunned such activities on such religious grounds.
However, it is now pursuing them to generate economic returns and to open up the cloistered lifestyles of the country.
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