RIYADH: Construction on an up-and-coming recreational megaproject in Riyadh will begin this year, according to Mike Reininger, CEO of the Qiddiya project.
“Planning and design were complete in 2018 and will be implemented this year,” Reininger told Arab News.
Qiddiya, one of the three megaprojects, besides the Neom smart-city and the Red Sea Project launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will be located about 40 kilometers from the city center.
A company tweet read: “We are a step closer to building Saudi Arabia’s first entertainment and sports city.”
Upon completion, the prominent landmark is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city.
The project targets local, regional and international tourists and will be Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent entertainment, sports and cultural destination that embodies the Saudi identity. It is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city by 2030, with a total area of 334 square kilometers, surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida, which is only 110 sq. km.
Investors hope the project will attract high numbers of international visitors. “We will disclose more information on the construction timeline in due course,” said Reininger. Developing the entertainment sector by creating high-quality domestic and international investments within the Kingdom is one of the main goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. These projects will have a huge positive impact on the country’s economy and quality of life. The youth demographic will be the main contributor to Qiddiya’s success since two-thirds of the Saudi population is under the age of 35. Therefore, the project aims to satisfy the recreational, social and cultural needs of the country’s current and future generations. This project will also contribute to the real estate development of the area, offering 4,000 residential units by 2025 and 11,000 by 2030. It aims to attract residents who want to buy second homes at Qiddiya for weekends and vacations.
Saudis spend $30 billion on tourism abroad every year. By providing new entertainment options for citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia, this project aims to redirect some of the overseas tourism spending back into the Kingdom.
This project will offer people opportunities to explore and experience without the need to travel to other countries. This supports Vision 2030’s objective to increase spending within the Kingdom on culture and entertainment activities, from about 3 percent of household income to 6 percent.
By 2030, the number of annual visitors to Qiddiya is expected to reach 17 million in the entertainment sector, 12 million in the shopping sector and 2 million in the hospitality sector.
The project aims to improve the quality of local life not only through entertainment, but also by providing around 57,000 jobs for citizens and opening new opportunities for the private sector in various industries. It will also serve the Kingdom’s goal of elevating Riyadh to become one of the world’s top 100 cities to live in.
Qiddiya’s facilities will enable citizens and residents to engage in a wide variety of sports, falling within Vision 2030’s theme of having a healthy society and increasing the ratio of individuals exercising at least once a week from 13 percent of the population to 40 percent.
The first phase of the project will officially open in 2022, with its final phase ending in 2035.
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