They’re fast, really really fast and they’re coming soon to Saudi Arabia’s mega-development Qiddiya.
The first is the world’s longest, tallest and speediest rollercoaster on the planet and the second is Formula One racing with the fastest drivers in the world.
A wild ride
SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business has won a three-year lead consultant role for a Six Flags theme park in Riyadh’s planned southern Qiddiya entertainment district.
Six Flags Qiddiya will cover 32ha and feature 28 rides across six sections: The City of Thrills, Discovery Springs, Steam Town, Twilight Gardens, Valley of Fortune, and Grand Exposition.
The park will contain the Falcon’s Flight, which will be the longest, tallest, and fastest rollercoaster in the world.
Announced in April 2017, Qiddiya will be a 334 sq km “entertainment city” on the outskirts of Riyadh, with a focus on sport, culture, and recreation.
Ian Redmayne, Atkins Saudi Arabia’s managing director, said: “Six Flags Qiddiya project is set to redefine the entertainment industry not only in the region but also globally.”
Six Flags Qiddiya is scheduled to open during the first phase of Qiddiya in 2023.
Qiddiya is strategically located close to Riyadh and will become Saudi Arabia’s iconic entertainment destination and the world’s largest entertainment city, even surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida.
Qiddiya has been divided into five development areas. These are Resort Core, City Centre, Eco Core, Motion Core, and the Golf and Residential Neighbourhood.
Visitors will have access to more than 300 facilities, including theme parks, water parks, and a sports city, not to mention shopping outlets, food and beverage strips, a performing arts theatre, multiplex cinemas, and an aquatic center.
Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) unveiled Qiddiya’s master plan, created with the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).
Don Potts, President of Parks and Attractions at Qiddiya, commented: “Qiddiya’s vision is to create a disruptive destination. It is going to have some of the most innovative experiences, not only in the region but in the world, in entertainment, sports and arts.”
Major construction has already started at Qiddiya, despite the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Given the phase of our project, we were able to keep on with the site work and infrastructure work,” he said, adding that opening dates are not impacted.
“We’ve awarded well over 1 billion riyals ($272 million) in contracts so far and that figure is going to jump, maybe 10 times to 10 billion riyals, which will all be construction-related contracts,” Qiddiya Investment Company CEO Michael Reininger told The National.
To date, the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has pumped megaprojects with money with total investments reaching $810 bn, according to the Middle East and North Africa Leisure Attractions Council.
The Qiddiya project is expected to contribute $4.5 bn to the Saudi GDP. It will also create 57,000 jobs by 2030.
Saudi is set to host a Formula One Grand Prix for the first time in 2021 with a street race in Jeddah featuring on a record 23-round draft calendar presented to teams, F1 sources said recently.
Saudi will likely be paired with the season-ending round in Abu Dhabi, an informed source told Reuters.
Jeddah would host the race until a purpose-built circuit in Qiddiya, an hour’s drive from Riyadh, is built.
Until then, the all-electric Formula E series has two races in Diriyah scheduled for Feb. 26-27, 2021.
Formula One this year announced a long-term global partnership with state-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco and has been in talks for some time about a Saudi race.
A Saudi race would be the third in the Middle East after Bahrain, which comes in the early part of the year, and Abu Dhabi.
Young Saudi human capital in tourism
Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb recently launched a strategy to develop human capital in the tourism sector where the younger generation in the Kingdom would engage in the tourism and hospitality professions, with an aim to create around 1 million new job opportunities by the year 2030.
Al-Khateeb said this strategy is an extension of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 as well as the tourism development strategy to achieve overall growth in domestic tourism revenues that will reach about 10% over the coming 10 years, the Saudi Press Agency reported.