Nat Geo Encounter to have first Saudi venue in 2019

National Geographic Encounter's first Middle Eastern facility of Ocean Odyssey – an immersive zoo focused on marine wildlife – will open in Riyadh next year, KBW Ventures revealed

KBW Ventures' Prince Khaled (centre) with officials from National Geographic Partners and SPE Partners [image: Diane Bondareff/AP Images].
KBW Ventures' Prince Khaled (centre) with officials from National Geographic Partners and SPE Partners [image: Diane Bondareff/AP Images].

An immersive entertainment product operated by the US's National Geographic Partners (NGP) announced it would begin its Middle East expansion with projects in Saudi Arabia. 

National Geographic Encounter, a part of NGP, is now set to open 10 new locations of Ocean Odyssey – a walk-through zoo focused on marine wildlife – outside the US.

The first of the several new locations in Saudi Arabia will be launched in Riyadh next year.

READ: Saudi Arabia's Six Flags theme park to open in 2022

The General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia (GEA) and KBW Ventures have teamed up with National Geographic Encounter for the project.

Entertainment developer, SPE Partners, and Washington-based real estate firm, Peterson Companies, will work on the new Ocean Odyssey locations, according to a statement by KBW Ventures. 

Commenting on the project, Faisal Baraft, chief executive officer (CEO) of GEA, said: “We are excited to bring this iconic brand and immersive experience into Saudi Arabia and provide premium entertainment in our country.”

HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, added: “When I first visited National Geographic Encounter and saw that the experience brings people around the globe into the natural world of wildlife, I knew that this was the future.”

National Geographic Encounter's flagship Ocean Odyssey is situated in New York City’s Times Square.

NGP is a joint venture partly owned by media network National Geographic, and specialises in the production of science, adventure and exploration offerings.

Leisure projects are attracting significant investments into Saudi Arabia, where the government's Vision 2030 mandate is supporting the creation of an entertainment ecosystem in the country.

On 5 April, it was announced that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) had signed an agreement to open a Six Flags-branded theme park in the kingdom. 

The project will be located in Qiddiya, and open in 2022, Saudi Arabia's press agency confirmed.

The Six Flags-branded amusement facility will be Saudi Arabia's first entertainment, sports, and cultural destination. 

David McKillips, president of Six Flags International Development Company, said the firm "[sees] great potential in the Saudi Arabian market".

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