Changing the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia plans $13b entertainment districts

In a major development for the oil-rich Gulf State, Saudi Arabia is investing over $13 billion in establishing destinations across the Kingdom as the conservative nation is opening up the society under the leadership of its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The announcement made by Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) – fully owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – would have been even impossible to think about some years ago. However, the crown prince is working major changes to bring the country at par with the outside world through modernisation.

SEVEN was established in December 2017 as part of Riyadh’s push to localise Saudi spending on entertainment under the Vision 2030 mandate.

According to the plan shared by SEVEN, 21 entertainment destinations are to be set up in 14 cities – Dammam, Jeddah, Makkah, Riyadh and others – which would have more than 150 entertainment areas in a bid to spur the industry’s growth and attract tourists, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

“The announcement comes in conjunction with the efforts seeking to consolidate the sector’s position as a basic pillar for diversifying sources of national income, creating jobs, and contributing to raising the quality of life for citizens and residents, in addition to supporting the empowerment of Saudi cities to obtain a better position among global cities,” the statement read.

In this connection, SEVEN Board of Directors Chairman Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Daoud says the new entertainment areas aimed at enhancing visitor experiences and establish partnerships with key global entertainment leaders.

“We believe the entertainment sector in the Kingdom is full of opportunities, and its role in the local economy is growing, and that it constitutes a solid basis for job creation, as it is a strong engine for many other economic sectors,” he said.

The company had earlier started construction work on one of its entertainment destinations at “Al-Hamra” district in Riyadh, with an investment of over $800 million.

In partnership with a number of the most prominent international brands in the entertainment sector, the entertainment destination at Al Hamra district will include many attractions to be the first of their kind in the world – including the indoor adventure center from Discovery, the educational entertainment landmark that it allows its users to have an interesting experience through exploration, play and education.

Moreover, it will also have an indoor viewing wheel, an indoor surfing area, bowling alleys that include 10 amazing tracks, an indoor air-flying area full of challenge and excitement, electric karting tracks, as well as cinemas, restaurants, cafes and branded retail stores.

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