Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, has launched a 1.3 billion Saudi riyal ($346.6 million) entertainment destination in the Aseer region as part of the kingdom's diversification efforts.
The development, Seven Abha, is spread across 64,000 square metres with a built-up area of more than 79,000 square metres, and is the company's fifth such project in the kingdom, Seven said on Sunday.
Located between the cities of Abha and Khamis Mushait, it is designed by global architecture firm Gensler, while Modern Building Leaders has been appointed to carry out the construction work.
The project is forecast to contribute more than 4 billion riyals to the gross domestic product and attract more than five million visitors by 2030, while also creating "hundreds" of direct and indirect jobs in Aseer, according to Seven.
The Aseer region is "witnessing an unprecedented renaissance across different sectors and verticals", said Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, chairman of Aseer Development Authority.
"Seven's entertainment destination in Abha is one of the key projects in Aseer which will support our ambition to become a global destination all year round.”
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is transforming its economy under its Vision 2030 diversification agenda as it aims to reduce its dependence on oil, support domestic industries and boost jobs.
Tourism is a key part of its diversification plan and the kingdom last year approved a new tourism law to boost the development of the sector and attract more investment.
It seeks to raise the economic contribution of the tourism sector from 3 per cent of GDP to 10 per cent by 2030.
The kingdom is developing a number of tourism projects, including Neom, a $500 billion futuristic city and Qiddiya, a huge entertainment and sports project in Riyadh. The Red Sea Development Company is also building a mega-tourism project on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.
In July, the PIF also established the Saudi Tourism Investment Company, or Asfar, to support the growth of the kingdom’s tourism sector.
The company will invest in new tourism projects and develop destinations with hospitality, tourist attractions, retail, and food and beverage offerings in cities across Saudi Arabia, the PIF said at the time.
Seven is investing more than 50 billion riyals to build 21 entertainment destinations in the kingdom as part of its mandate to develop the sector.
The upcoming projects are located in 14 cities: Riyadh, Kharj, Makkah, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam, Khobar, Al Ahsa, Madinah, Yanbu, Abha, Jizan, Buraidah and Tabuk.
Seven Abha will feature eight attractions, including a family entertainment centre with arcade games, rides and virtual reality areas.
It will also have a Discovery Adventures jungle-themed attraction, a Play-Doh themed entertainment centre and a 12-hole indoor golf adventure area.
A multipurpose venue will host live events, while the project will also have indoor e-karting on multilevel tracks, a 10-lane futuristic bowling concept, a 10-screen cinema from AMC as well as retail and food and beverage offerings.
Seven has tied up with Cundall, Theme 3, Top Notch, Holofice, Thinkwell and Sea Quest for the attractions.