The second-largest petroleum producer in the world, Saudi Arabia is planning a shift from Energy to Entertainment with the construction of an engineering marvel which could be the next big thing in extreme tourism called The Rig. The proposed project is just one piece of Saudi Vision 2030.
A massive project called The Rig, is planned to be constructed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It will be an amazing tourist attraction that will have hotels, restaurants, helipads and several extreme sports. Construction for this proposed 150,000 square meter (1.6 million square foot) extreme adventure park is planned to begin in April 2022.
Project attractions include 11 restaurants, three hotels, an extreme sports center, Marina, a multipurpose arena, helipad and a plethora of offshore adventure activities. Imagine sitting in an underwater restaurant and watching a massive whale shark through the glass-paneled walls and having a luscious lobster dinner. Yes, that will be possible on The Rig.
Saudi Arabia’s Shift From Energy to Entertainment
The Rig is part of Saudi Arabia’s primary investment arm, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Currently, Saudi Arabia is the second-largest petroleum producer in the world. Therefore they named this project as ‘The Rig’ as a “tribute” to the country’s economic success in the oil-drilling market. The Saudis are on their way to become the leaders in the entertainment industry as well.
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The proposed project is just one piece of Saudi Arabia’s larger vision to establish a thriving tourism and entertainment sector and diversify its economy as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 to be “an ambitious nation, build a thriving economy and vibrant society,” according to its website.
Plans for The Rig were released just months after announcements for the destination where you can find the world’s longest, fastest and tallest roller coasters and will be named as Six Flags Qiddiya in Riyadh. It is scheduled to open in 2023. The Saudis are really serious about making a name in tourism.
PIF also said it is partnering with cruise and development companies and seeks to bring jobs, citizens, and internal visitors to the site. By 2030, PIF hopes The Rig will bring in 650,000 tourists a year. Rides, adventure, jobs, economic diversity all on one offshore platform!
A Feat of Engineering
“At this point, engineers have figured out how to design and build some pretty amazing things,” says Anya Tyler, lead mechanical design engineer at Skyline Attractions, an amusement rides manufacturer and designer based out of Orlando, Florida. Tyler is also an expert on theme park engineering.
“Currently many cruise ships have rides and attractions that have been engineered to work with the boat moving across the water. I’d imagine engineering for attractions on an oil rig would be similar and possibly simpler since it would be primarily stationary.”
Engineers will have to get creative as the major challenge will be in getting materials, labor and machines to and from the offshore platform.
“There’s less flexibility in the surrounding area to set up and prebuild, or space for large equipment like cranes and forklifts,” Tyler says. “Engineering is always a bit of a puzzle and comes up with the best solution in the available constraints.”
“With the world getting more saturated with themed entertainment, there’s a huge battle to win customers by having the biggest, fastest or ‘only’ of something,” Tyler says.
“They’re all marketable, but if you’re going to spend the kind of money required to build a new park or attraction, you need to know you will get a return on investment.”
“Commitment to protecting the environment is a top priority for the project,” PIF said in a press statement.
“To achieve this goal, The Rig will create an organization framework that observes and respects global practice with regards to sustainability and conservation with a view to setting new global benchmarks around the further development and preservation of the environment.”
It appears that environmental sustainability is a goal for designers, but PIF has described little about the actual application of sustainability or the environmental impact.