Over 3,000 people have applied for just 60 places in a scholarship programme announced by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and Qiddiya Investment Company (QIA).
The programme, offering Saudis the opportunity to study at Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, USA, was launched earlier this month.
Speaking to Arabian Business, QIA CEO Mike Reininger, said: “That gives you some indication of the level of interest that exists from people who want to get themselves educated and get experienced for the kinds of opportunities that we’re going to be delivering. It’s exciting.”
The programme will begin in the autumn of this year and will last for five years. It will include an English language preparation programme and internship training at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.
Following graduation, students will join the Qiddiya project.
It forms part of a wider recruitment drive by QIA, with the first phase of the 334km sq giga-project, which is due to open in 2022, expected to provide direct employment to around 17,000 people – rising to 25,000 by 2030.
Reininger hopes the majority of those posts can be filled by Saudi nationals.
He said: “Objectively we’re targeting as many Saudis as we can physically get into those jobs. Initially what we’re doing is we’re scanning the world for the best and brightest talent with the right expertise and depth of experience in the categories of things that are important to us and we’re bringing them on board alongside a Saudi group that we have as well.
“Over time what we see happening already is that the balance is moving. It always has been more Saudi-centric than not, but we think that will increase and, ultimately, we think this will predominantly be a local operation top to bottom.”
Qiddiya is a pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, to ensure the country is a vibrant society, a thriving economy and a progressive nation.
Dubbed the ‘Kingdom’s capital of entertainment’, there are more than 45 projects in Phase One. Visitors will have access to more than 300 recreational and educational facilities designed around five cornerstones of development that drive the strategy: Parks & Attractions, Sports & Wellness, Motion & Mobility, Nature & Environment and Arts & Culture.
These cornerstones will include a Formula One-standard racing track, a 20,000-seat cliff-top stadium, an 18,000-seat indoor arena, an aquatic centre and a sports hub, as well as a 2,000-seat performing arts theatre and a cinema.
The development will also be home to Six Flags Qiddiya, an extension of the American theme park with six themed lands – designs of this are due to be revealed next month.
While Qiddiya’s golf and residential neighbourhood will feature two 18-hole courses and offer club house facilities, in addition to residential components throughout.
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