On 26-28 February, a Saudi Arabian delegation visited Denmark with the purpose to gather inspiration for the realisation of “Qiddiya”, an entertainment, sports and arts destination that will be built outside the capital Riyadh.
During their visit, the delegation met with Danish experts in sustainable urban development, urban mobility and renewable energy at three events arranged by the Danish embassy in Saudi Arabia. Finally, the delegation also paid a visit to State of Green’s showroom House of Green for an introduction to Denmark’s green positions of strength.
Mega project running on green energy
Qiddiya is a mega entertainment, sports and arts project that was first announced in 2017. Construction started in the beginning of 2019. The project, which will be run as much as possible on renewable energy, is one of the tourism mega projects to be established in Saudi Arabia in the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030 transformation programme. Vision 2030 aims to diversify the income resources of the country and build the tourism industry so that in the future it will make a significant contribution to overall economic growth in Saudi Arabia.
According to the project website, “Qiddiya will be the capital of Entertainment, Sports and the Arts in Saudi Arabia, an integrated destination offering immersive experiences and memorable moments of delight.”
Phase One is expected to be ready in 2023, when visitors will have access to more than 300 recreational and educational facilities designed around five cornerstones of development: parks and attractions, sports and wellness, motion and mobility, nature and environment, and arts and culture. Part of Phase One is “Six Flags Qiddiya”, incl. the longest, tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. Six Flags is an amusement park corporation based in the United States.
Saudi Arabia hopes that by 2030, Qiddiya will become one of the world’s largest tourist attractions with an area of 334 km2 and an estimated annual visitor count of 14.5 million guests. The site located 45 km west of Riyadh envisions development covering only 30 per cent of the land leaving the majority of the site for natural conservation.
Danish master plan
The Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has designed the master plan for Qiddiya and plays a key role in the project development. BIG’s masterplan, which was revealed in June 2019, responds to the region’s natural landscape, while creating a series of pedestrian- and bike-oriented routes that traverse the development.
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Heavy investments in renewable energy
The energy sector in Saudi Arabia is rapidly evolving as a result of the Vision 2030 reform programme, which aims to increase the share of renewable energy. Saudi Arabia has a target of generating 27.3 GW of wind energy in 2025 and 58.7 GW in 2030. In order to achieve these goals, Saudi Arabia will invest up to USD 50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
The visit to Denmark was organised by the trade department of the Danish Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the official Danish export and investment organisation. The delegation was joined by Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) that provides investment licenses to foreign companies wishing to establish business and business relations in Saudi Arabia. On 26 Feb, SAGIA reportedly transformed into the newly established Ministry of Investment, in an attempt to boost international investments to the country, as part of Saudi Vision 2030 of diversifying the economy to non-oil revenues.
Bringing Danish expertise to the forefront in Saudia Arabia
“It was a pleasure to accompany the CEO of Qiddiya, Mr. Michael Reininger, meeting with top-notch Danish companies and partners such as State of Green, and present Saudi business opportunities to local businesses as well as showcase Danish expertise in various disciplines. The Embassy team continuously work to sharpen the Danish-Saudi bilateral trade relations. This is in alignment with our strategy in Denmark and top priorities of the current Danish government. Our mandate is to acknowledge the global climate crisis, clean energy, sustainability and to cover 100 per cent of our energy through renewables by 2030. To this end, we work closely with our Saudi fellows to reach the Saudi Vision 2030 goals, introduce renewables as an emerging market in Saudi Arabia, and bring Danish expertise to the forefront within the Saudi energy market,” said Ole Moesby, Ambassador of Denmark to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen.
“Interesting to see the commitment and progress State of Green is making against important sustainability advancements and impressed by their openness and interest in collaborating toward improved results” – Michael Reininger, CEO, Qiddiya Investment Company.
“This trip to Denmark marks the beginning to a series of similar events of introducing Danish expertise to the local markets in the MENA region. It is also a seed for future projects with State of Green, capitalised on the extensive knowledge and database they possess about Danish economy and business, especially within the energy sector. Saudi Arabia is moving fast to deploy more renewable energy projects, attract international companies to the market, provide incentives to Danish companies, and replicate the Danish success story,” said Alia Mokbel, Energy Commercial Advisor.
The Danish Trade Council (in Danish)
Photos: Qiddiya media resources