Saudi Arabia aims to become a must-visit destination for thrill seekers


By AGENCY

Qiddiya is a resort dedicated to sports, leisure and the arts, with a roller coaster as the main focus. — AFP

Monumental hotels, creation of a nature reserve, showcasing cultural heritage and local crafts – there are many ways to build the tourist appeal of a town, region or even a country. Another approach to drawing international visitors is through the development of theme parks.

Since 2019, when Saudi Arabia began opening up its borders to international holidaymakers, the kingdom has been trying to turn this economic sector into a new financial windfall. And among the tourists Saudi Arabia is clearly determined to attract are jet-setting thrill-seekers.

Recently, at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) expo in Orlando, Florida, in the United States, details were presented about the Qiddiya project, as spotted by Coaster 101. Qiddiya is designed as a vast resort dedicated to sports, leisure and the arts, where a roller coaster is being designed and built by Swiss company Intamin. It is less than 50km from Riyadh.

Intamin revealed that the roller coaster, whose cars will take on the features of a falcon head – often associated with Saudi Arabia – is set to be both the fastest and the tallest in the world. The ride will climb to 195m before plummeting, besting the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, the US. In terms of speed, Qiddiya’s Six Flags promises an adrenaline rush with its 250km/h speed, surpassing the 240km/h of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, where daredevil passengers are required to wear safety goggles.

According to Itamin, a windshield will protect passengers from the effects of speed.

Beyond the impressive figures, the ride should also make a lasting impression, given the setting in which it is built. The roller coaster will hurtle down the desert cliffs of Qiddiya, twirling between palm trees before plunging into a tunnel marked by coloured hoops for an effective strobe-like effect. Shaped by four kilometres of track, the ride should take around three minutes in total.

This project is part of a vast strategy of launches garnering media attention such as the sustainable megacity Neom, on which work began a year ago.

These are just some of the plans in the works designed to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve the goal of 150 million travellers by 2030. In the first three months of 2023, the kingdom led by Mohammed bin Salman was visited by 7.8 million people, a 64% increase on the same period in 2019. – AFP Relaxnews

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