By Fares Karam and Mohamed Fahd
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has signed an agreement with Six Flags, a U.S. amusement park company, to design and build the kingdom’s largest entertainment facility.
According to a PIF press release, the planned amusement park -- slated for completion in 2022 -- will be built in the city of Al-Qaddiya southwest of capital Riyadh.
Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as PIF chairman, announced plans to build the country’s largest cultural, sports and entertainment facility.
Earlier this week, Ahmed al-Khatib, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, said total investment in the kingdom’s entertainment sector was expected to reach some $17 billion by 2030.
Saudi Arabia’s MBC Group, meanwhile, recently signed an agreement with the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, which will put on a circus event in the kingdom -- for the first time ever -- in September.
Additional agreements have been signed with a handful of other foreign entertainment companies, including Field Entertainment, National Geographic, IMG and Leisure Entertainment.
In a related development, Saudi authorities on Wednesday announced plans to open between 30 and 40 cinemas across the kingdom over the next five years.
The Saudi entertainment sector has seen massive growth in recent months, coinciding with significant social changes ushered in by bin Salman, who was appointed crown prince last summer.
On Apr. 18, the oil-rich kingdom’s first cinema will open its doors to the public.