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Six Flags Saudi Arabia(?) | Saudi Arabia | Theme Park

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
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There could be a more prosaic reason - the collapse of the Dubai housing market since 2014 due to oversupply.
This sort of thing happened both before and after that as well. Pentominium, Dubai Pearl, and Burj al Alam crashed in the wake of the financial crisis, while other towers that were initiated afterwards (most notably Dubai Creek Tower) have also been put on hold mid-way through construction. It seems like there is a willingness to initiate construction as early as possible, even in cases where it might have been smarter to review the feasibility one more time instead.
 

TPoseOnTantrum

Hyper Poster
Some links; https://www.constructionweekonline....nd-bbi-win-1bn-contract-for-six-flags-qiddiya

The thing about Qiddaya is that it's kinda been dismissed as a project with a future way back when it was announced way back in 2019. There was serious skepticism that the project would even come to fruition, or more specifically, that Falcon's Flight would ever exist. Over the past year, Qiddaya kinda stopped being vocal about the SF project online (or at least in mainstream media) and they've probably hit some kind of pushback because the original 2023 opening is not likely. With this silence and skepticism combined, I've encountered a growing group of people online over the past several months who've kinda just assumed that the plug was pulled on the project already based on the contents alone. This update might catch a lot off guard, but looking a little closer, things were indeed happening.

Over the past two years, they've still been in the site analysis mode and pushing dirt on an epic scale. They've completed a fancy base of operations building to oversee the project. In October 2020, SNC Lavalin's Atkins (lol) was awarded the lead design services consultant contract for Qiddaya. Flash forwards 14 months and two construction firms have been attached to the actual park. Much more has been going on behind the scenes.

Meanwhile on the coaster side, it's known that Intamin is attached to the Falcon's Flight project and Vekoma seems to be pushing something as well. Unlike the London Resort, they've been pushing a very consistent ride lineup and park concepts. Safe to say that the plug was never pulled, or at least not yet. Here's a couple of screen grabs from Qiddaya's latest video.
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toofpikk

Mega Poster
I follow a few of the engineers and designers on linkedin, they pop up once a month or so to talk about how exciting the project is to work on etc.

In general, development in the Middle East is fairly consistent to a point - my work has had me involved with a few bits of research for some of the ongoing projects. There are a few hotspots which have an inconceivably quick rate of development to your average Westerner.

Projects tend to make or break just after the foundation stage, as can be seen with the likes of huge projects like the Jeddah Tower, Dubai Creek, Universal Dubailand and I'm sure many others. Good start to have an office block up and ready a month before its deadline, and I think the fact that SF is actually just an element of a bigger picture here may be an advantage as it seems the Qiddiya project also aims to have a world-class golf course and other entertainment amenities. It may be that elements of it get finished not including SF, (and tbh I doubt that a theme park will be the developers priority) but it's certainly one to keep an eye on. Although their deadline aim was 2023, the Saudi Vision development project is proposed to go on until an ultimate goal of 2030.

Unsure if it's been posted previously, but a dramatic animation has been produced showing the sheer scale of the entire project:
 

BenJacobs

Roller Poster
Yeah this place looks insane but I can't help but feel very skeptical of Falcon's Flight. Until I see track on site I doubt that ride will get off the drawing board.
I’d be skeptical if it were being made by anyone except Saudi, as they definitely have the money, and the engineering might not be done often on this scale but that’s only due to very few parks having the money to make a world’s tallest/longest/fastest coaster.

It is also looks as though it has been properly designed with Intamin, given the more realistic layout of the second half and the supports looking real also.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
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Yeah this place looks insane but I can't help but feel very skeptical of Falcon's Flight. Until I see track on site I doubt that ride will get off the drawing board.
In this region, projects like this have a tendency to get slightly off the drawing board and then crash completely. They could pour footers and start building the station, then ask for investor money to complete the project, and then the investors take two glances at the expected costs vs. returns, say "nah", and the whole project is abandoned. It has happened to more skyscrapers than I dare count (including three attempts to beat the world record), it has happened to most of the man-made islands, it happened to a whole slew of smaller-scale residential projects, and it happened to ... *(checks notes)* ... pretty much every international brand theme park in the UAE. Everything looking on schedule until construction starts, and then the project runs out of money and has to close down.

Falcon's Flight in particular has red flags all over it. That lifthill climbing up the cliffside would itself be more expensive than any coaster out there. The tunnel with the drop through the cliff would be more expensive than most parks out there. A near-vertical tunnel through shallow rock, through a cliffside with no road access? That's the sort of engineering projects that require eight- or nine-figure sums to deliver. A heck of a lot of money to spend on one coaster with a rather narrow appeal (most riders apart from white-knuckle thrillseekers would turn away at the gate for a coaster with those stats), and you can only imagine the attendance figures it needs to draw to even out the maintenance costs.

Speaking of, how many people would realistically visit anyway? It's a park in the middle of the desert in Saudi Arabia. They're fighting a steep uphill battle against the climate and political reputation of the place, so the natural limit to realistic attendance figures would be quite low. Just consider how much the parks in Dubai struggle to attract customers - and those are air-conditioned indoor parks in the middle of the biggest tourist hotspot in the region, within an hour's drive of around ten million people and heck knows how many tourists. I'd be surprised if Six Flags Qiddiya managed to match the attendance figures of, say, Motiongate or Legoland Dubai. Even if it gets a record-breaking coaster. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has one of those, and it's not among the 20 most attended parks in the Europe-Middle East region according to the TEA report. A cursory Google search suggests it receives about a million visitors per year. Dubai Parks and Resorts saw around 2.8 million visitors in total in 2018. Across three parks. That's roughly the same figures as Legoland Windsor, and less than Gardaland. Half as much as Efteling. What reason is there to believe Six Flags Qiddiya will fare any better?

The question I expect somebody to raise at some point regarding Falcon's Flight is "what benefit is there to building it this big?" The coaster adds only marginally to the tourist appeal of the place, but brings enormous costs. It would be vastly cheaper to build a conventional Hyper, or even a Giga, for approximately the same tourist draw. As long as they stay away from that cliffside tunnel they will save multiple fortunes no matter what, really. A height of 75 meters would be sufficient to claim the title of "tallest coaster in mainland Asia", but they could go all the way to 100 meters and claim "tallest gravity-driven coaster in the world" if they really wanted to splurge. The cost savings compared to that ridiculous cliffside contraption would still be enormous, and the impact on attendance figures hardly noticeable. The world's fastest coaster doesn't draw more than a million visitors per year to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (about as many as Kristiansand Zoo and amusement park, a place you've never heard of). I doubt it would work any better in Qiddiya. They might as well not build the world's fastest coaster, save a fortune, and the gate figures would probably be approximately the same.

Or in other words, "why spend a billion dollars to draw 1.28 million guests every year, when we could spend 50 million and draw 1.22 million?" If I were an investor into the project, that's probably the first question I'd ask.
 

TPoseOnTantrum

Hyper Poster
Qiddiya signs a SAR 2.8 billion ($750 million) construction contract for their Qiddaya Water Theme Park; <https://qiddiya.com/en/media/press-...irst-and-region-s-largest-water-theme-park-1/>
The park will feature 22 rides and attractions including 9 world firsts

Riyadh, KSA, 23 February 2022: Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) announced the award of a SAR 2.8 billion ($750 million) contract to build Saudi Arabia’s first and the region’s largest water theme park. The contract was awarded to ALEC Saudi Arabia Engineering & Contracting and El Seif Engineering Contracting, in a joint venture between the two companies. The Qiddiya Water Theme Park will be one of the key entertainment attractions at Qiddiya, the future capital of Entertainment, Sports and Culture.

The agreement was formally signed between Qiddiya’s Managing Director Abdullah Aldawood, ALEC’s CEO Kez Taylor and El Seif’s CEO Ahmed Al-Bassam at a ceremony held at the Qiddiya Experience Center, followed by a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction.

The park will cover 252,000 square meters of land and will be home to 22 rides and attractions – including nine that will be world firsts. Visitors will also be able to enjoy nine innovatively designed zones – the Entry Gate, Camel Rock, Dub Grotto, Wave Wadi, the Den, Viper Canyon, Arabian Peak, the Herding Grounds and Surf Lagoon – inspired by the native animals that inhabit the area around Qiddiya.

At the signing ceremony, Abdullah Aldawood, Board Member and Managing Director, QIC, commented: “The Qiddiya Water Theme Park will be a year-round immersive family entertainment destination, the first of its kind and offering experiences that have never before been offered in Saudi. We are pleased to be working with industry leaders like ALEC and El Seif, who will be using the latest in guest experience technologies to create what is certain to be one of the world’s greatest water theme parks. The park will offer our guests a chance to experience that in a welcoming and fun environment for everyone.”

Visitors will embark on an unforgettable adrenaline-fueled adventure at the Water Theme Park which will also feature state-of-the-art competition water sports facilities and 17 F&B and retail outlets. The park design will incorporate advanced environmental systems to minimize the use of water through recycling and smart usage in line with QIC’s sustainability practices. This will maximize the fun for visitors whilst significantly reducing the amount of water needed to operate the park.

Some rides have been designed to use 75% less water compared to the more conventional rides found in other water parks. In addition, rainwater that falls on the site will be captured, treated and reused for irrigating the destination.

The park will also integrate technologies to reduce water pressure in certain rides which will in turn reduce water evaporation by half. In addition, every pool in the complex will be based on a ‘run-out’ concept so that at the end of an exciting slide individuals will glide safely across a shallower pool that uses less water unlike traditional deeper pools used in other water parks.

Kez Taylor, CEO of ALEC, added: “We are proud to work on this landmark project in collaboration with El Seif. ALEC’s established expertise in large-scale theme park projects, honed through the successful delivery of other iconic water parks in the GCC, combined with the local expertise of El Seif will ensure the rides and infrastructure at the Qiddiya set new standards for the region, offering adventure seekers of all ages truly one-of-a-kind experiences.”

Ahmed Al-Bassam, CEO of El Seif, commented: “El Seif is one of the Kingdom’s leading engineering and construction companies that has built some of Saudi Arabia’s and the region’s best known iconic projects such as the Kingdom Tower, Princess Noura University and Haramain High Speed Rail Rabigh Station. El Seif and ALEC have formed a strategic alliance and are committed to be the JV of choice for large complex projects in KSA. We are thrilled to be awarded, with our JV partner ALEC, the contract for the Water Theme Park. We thank Qiddiya for its confidence in our JV and look forward to delivering a world-class entertainment facility together – the first in Saudi Arabia and the largest in the region.”

Qiddiya’s offering will be based on five cornerstones: Parks & Attractions, Sports & Wellness, Arts & Culture, Motion & Mobility and Nature & Environment, along with a variety of real estate options and community services. The Water Theme Park will be one of the key attractions of the Parks & Attractions cornerstone.

Who knows if it’ll ever happen, but I recognize products from both Proslide and Whitewater West in here.
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Ethan

Strata Poster
I mean, looks alright? I like the idea of a flume ride over the side of the quarry. I don't really fancy ever visiting this part of the world so I'm not gonna be that excited for it but I think the huge coaster they want to build will be the main attention grabber.
 

SimonProD

Mega Poster
My two cents on this project: Surely looks ambitious and they sure plan some amazing coasters.

The cons are more personal in nature:
  • I don't want to travel to countries that are violating my moral compass. I will not go to China and already have a hard time on deciding if I should go to the UAE - so I cannot see myself visiting Saudia Arabia
  • I'm from Northern Europe and therefore don't like it hot - and "hot" starts for me at 30°C (85°F) - so have a hard time envisioning enjoying my time in a desert destination
 

opivy028

Roller Poster
My two cents on this project: Surely looks ambitious and they sure plan some amazing coasters.

The cons are more personal in nature:
  • I don't want to travel to countries that are violating my moral compass. I will not go to China and already have a hard time on deciding if I should go to the UAE - so I cannot see myself visiting Saudia Arabia
  • I'm from Northern Europe and therefore don't like it hot - and "hot" starts for me at 30°C (85°F) - so have a hard time envisioning enjoying my time in a desert destination
I’m with you that I wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia, but I don’t know that for me I can (as someone in the USA with the largest prison population in the world used for continuing our mostly continuous history of slave labor and refugees in prison camps and the most massive global
military presence and selling weapons to the saudis/israel and with a history of massive genocide against Native Americans) can really take the moral high ground against China. I mean the wealth and global class privilege most of us are traveling on is pretty blood soaked given europe‘s colonial/imperial/genocidal history as well.
 

Christian

Hyper Poster
I understand your position to not visit Saudi but I think there has been some change recently. Had a long chat with a high ranking member of the Saudi foreign ministry and he pitched the country wonderfully. He told me that Saudi is not as liberal as Dubai but he promised me a great time there as well as promising me safety and free healthcare as a foreigner. He even wanted me to join him there the next day. I had to decline due to time constraints. I wouldn't say any country existing right now has a clean moral compass.

Saudi Arabia is certainly a place I look forward to visit.
 
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Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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I would love to visit Saudi Arabia - after the next elections.

Until elections are held and a free press exists - heck no.
 

Christian

Hyper Poster
I would love to visit Saudi Arabia - after the next elections.

Until elections are held and a free press exists - heck no.

They actually have some kind of municipal elections when they feel like it. They had them in 2005, planned for 2009 but they happened in 2011 and in 2015 (this one was open for women). There is currently no plan to hold them again.

Saudi Arabia completely lacks free press. Qatar is an equally totalitarian state but they have in my opinion the best news company in the world, Al Jazeera. Pretty bizarre. Highly recommend watching Al Jazeera, their journalism is top notch for everything not regarding Qatar.
 
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