Saudi Arabia’s King and Crown Prince have officially broken ground on a 334 square-kilometre entertainment resort near Riyadh which is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year after it opens in 2022, it was announced on Saturday.

Billed the kingdom’s answer to Disneyland, the Qiddiya development will include a Six Flags theme park, water parks, motor sports facilities and a safari area, as well as vacation homes.

By 2030, officials hope that site – located about an hour’s drive southwest of the Saudi capital of Riyadh – will attract 17 million people.

Saudi media reports that the total value of the project’s infrastructure may reach as high as $8 billion, with the total worth of the project expected to be considerably higher.

“We invite investors, creators and operators from around the world to explore what a one-of-a-kind project like Qiddiya has to offer,” CEO Michael Reininger told media on Saturday.

“We will seek the best to help us as we invent a new entertainment experience for all residents and visitors to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Reuters, Reininger said that Qiddiya is seeking financing from a number of local and international sources to supplement the majority contribution from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The Qiddiya development is one of a number of initiatives launched by the Saudi government to boost the kingdom’s entertainment options, which have included the lifting of a decades-long ban on cinemas and plans to stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, as well as inject $64 million into the sector. More

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