Saudi Arabia is building an entertainment city almost as big as Las Vegas near Riyadh

Project will host safari park and Six Flags theme park

Construction of entertainment city set to begin early next year and first stage is expected to be finished by 2022 (file image)
Construction of entertainment city set to begin early next year and first stage is expected to be finished by 2022 (file image)

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build an entertainment city almost as big as Las Vegas in the capital of Riyadh.

The 334 square km (129 square mile) city would be 50 times the size of Gibraltar once complete, the BBC reports, and will offer cultural, entertainment and sporting activities.

It will also host a safari park and a Six Flags theme park.

The kingdom's Public Investment Fund will be the main investor in the project, which is set to begin early next year and the first stage is expected to be finished by 2022.

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"This city will become, by God's will, a prominent cultural landmark and an important centre for meeting the future generation's recreational, cultural and social needs in the kingdom," deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud said.

The entertainment city is being built as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform programme, which aims to reduce the gulf state's dependence on oil.

Last year, Six Flags chief executive Jim Reid-Anderson said the company aimed to build three parks in Saudi Arabia, with each costing between $300m and $500m (£232 and 388m).

But developing a leisure sector is fraught with difficulties in the Islamic kingdom, which adheres to a strict social code where women are required to wear loose-fitting robes, cinemas and alcohol are banned and public spaces are gender-segregated.

It remains to be seen how a theme park such as Six Flags will work as women and men remain largely segregated.

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