Qiddiya, near Riyadh, will be 100 times the size of New York’s Central Park.

Forty kilometres west of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, ground has been broken on an ambitious entertainment project called Qiddiya.

It will be two and a half times the size of Walt Disney World and 100 times the size of New York’s Central Park, Saudi Arabia’s Centre of International Communication says.

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They’re aiming to complete the 334-square-kilometre project by 2022, and to recoup US$30 million annually that’s currently spent outside the kingdom.

 

King Salman bin Abdul Aziz inaugurated the development on Sunday, April 29, in a ceremony also attended by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Set on an escarpment in the desert, Qiddiya will be home to world-class entertainment and sports facilities, the CIC says.

Qiddiya is the latest in a series of moves by Saudi leaders aimed at diversifying the kingdom’s post-oil economy.

Under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, restrictions on public entertainment are loosening. Earlier in April, a public screening of Black Panther ended the kingdom’s 35-year ban on cinemas.

And in February, a jazz festival was held in the capital of Riyadh.

King Salman issued a historic royal decree in September, allowing females the right to lawfully gain driving licences in the kingdom from June 2018.

Women will be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities from this year, and female students in the kingdom are now allowed to carry their phones while on campus.

Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobsa royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.

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Images: CIC Saudi Arabia/Twitter