by WorldTribune Staff, June 30, 2016
In a nod to the more than 50 percent of the population under the age of 25, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Sultan is looking to construct U.S.-style theme parks in the kingdom.
Bin Salman, the 30-year-old who has risen swiftly since being appointed deputy crown prince last year, is in talks with the U.S.’s Six Flags Entertainment to build theme parks as part of his “Vision 2030” plan to boost the economy.
Six Flags Entertainment has “initiated discussions with the government of Saudi Arabia to pursue development of Six Flags-branded theme parks in that market,” the entertainment company announced on its website.
The Muslim kingdom has small-scale amusement parks for children but it outlaws alcohol – even in luxury hotels – and does not allow cinemas or theaters as part of its policy of sex segregation. Many Saudis in the Internet-savvy younger generation visit neighboring Bahrain or Dubai for entertainment.
“We are well aware that the cultural and entertainment opportunities currently available do not reflect the rising aspirations of our citizens and residents,” Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 admits, adding that Saudi Arabia plans “partnerships with international entertainment corporations” and wants to set up special tourist zones.
The talks with Six Flags were announced after Mohammed returned from Washington, D.C., where he met with President Barack Obama and several U.S. political and business leaders.
According to a report by Middle East Eye, the deputy crown prince is being supported by the UAE’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nayhan, to claim the Saudi throne by the end of the year.