RIYADH, April 8 Saudi Arabia announced plans on
Saturday to build a 334 sq km "entertainment city" south of the
capital Riyadh, to feature sports, cultural and recreational
facilities including a safari and a Six Flags theme
The kingdom's Public Investment Fund will be the main
investor in the project, which will break ground in 2018 and
open in 2022, according to a statement by Deputy Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman carried by state news agency SPA.
Other local and international investors will also provide
capital, the statement said, without elaborating on the size of
"This city will become, by God's will, a prominent cultural
landmark and an important centre for meeting the future
generation's recreational, cultural and social needs in the
kingdom," said Prince Mohammed in a statement.
U.S.-based Six Flags announced in June that it had begun
talks with the Saudi government to build theme parks as part of
Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 efforts to expand its entertainment
sector and diversify the economy.
Chief Executive Jim Reid-Anderson said later in the year
that the company aimed to build three parks in Saudi Arabia,
with each costing between $300 million and $500 million.
The Vision 2030 reform programme contains plans to shed the
kingdom's austere reputation, wean the economy off oil and
create jobs for young Saudis.
But developing a leisure sector is fraught with difficulties
in the Islamic kingdom, which adheres to a strict social code
where women are required to wear loose-fitting robes, cinemas
and alcohol are banned and public spaces are gender-segregated.
(Reporting by Katie Paul; editing by Jason Neely)