Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a 1.6 million sq ft floating theme park on an oil rig, with rollercoasters, extreme sports and waterslides across interconnected platforms in its latest extravagant tourism drive.
The colossal project, dubbed ‘The Rig,’ will include three hotels and 11 restaurants, swimming pools, a Ferris wheel and white-knuckle rides high above the glittering Persian Gulf.
Digital renderings of the ambitious engineering feat were released this month, showing a large pier for access by cruise ship, a concert venue, gondolas running between the platforms over the sea and an underwater restaurant.
It is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which recently acquired Newcastle United for £300 million, which critics say is an attempt at ‘sportswashing’ to shift the focus from Riyadh’s murky human rights record.
Riyadh wants to turn Saudi into a holiday haven for Westerners, following in the footsteps of glitzy destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and is investing heavily in its tourism industry to help diversify its oil-reliant economy.
The colossal project, dubbed ‘The Rig,’ will include three hotels and 11 restaurants, swimming pools, a Ferris wheel and white-knuckle rides high above the glittering Persian Gulf
Digital renderings of the ambitious engineering feat were released this month, showing gondolas and zip lines running between the platforms over the sea
Another mock up from the Saudi project shows an underwater project where diners can eat while looking out into the azure waters of the Gulf
The Saudi project features three hotels spread across three platforms and can be accessed by boat and by helicopter
An image of a man on a jetski released by the PIF, one of many attractions it hopes will draw visitors to The Rig
A mock up shows swimming pools on the platforms, a gondola to ferry people across the floating attraction and massive slides for thrill seekers
‘This project is a unique tourism attraction, expected to attract tourists from around the world,’ said a statement from the PIF.
‘The Rig will feature a number of touristic attractions, including three hotels, world-class restaurants, helipads, and a range of adventurous activities, including extreme sports.’
The statement added that the project will help contribute to Saudi’s broader plans ‘to achieve economic diversification.’
Neither a completion date nor a cost for The Rig were issued.
While millions of Muslim pilgrims travel to Saudi every year to visit Mecca, the country’s hardline laws, particularly in relation to women, make it a less appealing prospect for many Westerners.
However, the country hopes it can reinvent itself as an alluring prospect and start reaping the lucrative rewards which its neighbours like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman have enjoyed from international tourism.
Saudi is aiming to attract 100 million tourists each year by 2030.
Bungee jumping will be one of many white-knuckle attractions on offer at the converted oil rig
The massive structure will be converted to accommodate hundreds of guests, ferrying them in by air and by sea
Plans for The Rig comes after it was announced that US theme parks company Six Flags was going to be constructing a 79-acre site, with the world’s fastest ever roller coaster, outside Riyadh. The theme park will be situated at Qiddiya, a new city being constructed outside the capital.
A concert venue in mock ups of the project
A Ferris wheel is also planned for The Rig, offering a more sedate pace than some of the other rides on offer
A massive water slide at a water park planned for the huge tourist attraction
Earlier this year, it announced it planned to rollout a second national airline in addition to the current flag carrier Saudia, formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines.
As part of the proposals, it said it would invest $147 billion into transport and logistics over the next decade.
Plans for The Rig comes after it was announced that US theme parks company Six Flags was going to be constructing a 79-acre site, with the world’s fastest ever roller coaster, outside Riyadh.
The theme park will be situated at Qiddiya, a new city being constructed outside the capital.