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Entertainment City: Saudi Arabia's Next Move To Diversify From Oil

Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is talking to investors from the Middle East and the rest of the world to join fund the development of a mega city of entertainment and sports, as part of the Kingdom’s strategy to diversify its economy away from oil.

According to the head of Qiddiya Investment—a company backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Qiddiya is looking to sign joint venture deals and is also exploring privatization and land leasing to fund the new ambitious project of OPEC’s largest producer and the world’s top crude oil exporter.  

“The project will be built on a combination of our capital that is deployed alongside investment capital from many other sources,” Bloomberg quoted Qiddiya Investment’s chief executive Michael Reininger as telling reporters in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday.

The PIF will combine funds from its own coffers with those of investors to fund the mega entertainment and sports city, Reininger said, without naming the potential cost of the huge project.

The details known so far are that the entertainment city will be built on 334 square kilometers (129 square miles) outside Riyadh. The project is set to have a theme park of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, an off-road area, and a private racetrack, Bloomberg reports.

Qiddiya Investment hopes that the entertainment and sports city will be attracting 17 million visitors per year in 2030, contributing up to US$4.5 billion (17 billion Saudi riyals) to the non-oil sector of Saudi Arabia’s economy, according to Bloomberg.

The mega entertainment city is the latest in a string of announced huge investments in the Kingdom, including a US$500-billion smart city and a US$200-billion solar power project, aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil. At least from the Saudi side, most of the financing for those huge projects will come from none other than revenues from oil.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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