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WATCH Saudi Arabia plans to break more than one record with new roller coaster



As it continues to carve out a reputation as a major tourist destination of the future, Saudi Arabia has unveiled more details about its plans to attract thrill-seekers with roller coasters.

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.

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Last week, at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) expo in Orlando, Florida, USA, more 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 less than 50 km from Riyadh where a roller coaster being designed and built by Swiss company Intamin will take pride of place as the essential ride in the Six Flags amusement park.

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 195 metres before plummeting, besting the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey (USA).

In terms of speed, Qiddiya’s Six Flags promises an adrenaline rush with its 250 km/h speed, surpassing the 240 km/h of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, where daredevil passengers are required to wear safety goggles.

According to Intamin – whose international reputation has been built through its work on numerous attractions at PortAventura Park, the Efteling and Six Flags Great Adventure – 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 travelers by 2030. In the first three months of 2023, the kingdom led by Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was visited by 7.8 million people, a 64% increase on the same period in 2019.

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