Dubai ruler opens door for Six Flags theme park in Saudi Arabia

Sheikh Mohammed says he has exempted Saudi Arabia from a GCC theme park deal with rival operator
(Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Tue 28 Jun 2016 02:57 PM

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has exempted Saudi Arabia from a GCC theme park deal, allowing the Gulf kingdom to pursue plans with US operator Six Flags.

The move was announced in a tweet on Tuesday by Dubai Media Office and follows contradictory comments made by Six Flags about proposals for a Saudi theme park.

Late last week, US theme parks operator denied reports that it is planning to open a resort in Saudi Arabia, citing the a GCC-wide exclusivity deal with Dubai Parks and Resorts.

The company's CEO, John Duffy, had been quoted as saying earlier last week that it was planning a partnership to bring roller coasters and bumper cars to the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The spokesman was quoted as saying: “The only Middle East market where an agreement currently exists to open a Six Flags park is in Dubai and no agreement has been reached to open any parks elsewhere in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

“In fact, we have an exclusive partnership in the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, with Dubai Parks and Resorts."

On Tuesday, Six Flags confirmed that it has begun talks with Saudi Arabia to build theme parks.

Six Flags operates approximately 20 theme and water parks in North America and signed an agreement with a private Ho Chi Minh City based company in March to open two parks in Vietnam.

Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are encouraging the development of theme parks to help boost foreign tourist arrivals as oil prices slump, causing an economic slowdown in the region.

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