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Sun 14 Apr 2019 07:41 AM

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Saudi Entertainment Ventures' complexes to include virtual reality, performing arts

The company has plans for 20 entertainment complexes spread throughout Saudi Arabia

Saudi Entertainment Ventures' complexes to include virtual reality, performing arts

Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) plans to include virtual reality and live performance centres across its 20 planned entertainment complexes across the kingdom, according to CEO Bill Ernest.

In January, SEVEN announced plans for a 100,000 square-metre entertainment complex in Riyadh, located on Riyadh’s Eastern Ring Road at the intersection of King Abdullah Road.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Ernest – a 25-year veteran of the Walt Disney Company – said that the project, and the subsequent ones, will have “a lot going on.”

“This will be the space that families get to come together to have fun and be entertained,” he said. “We’ll have a cinema in each of those locations, and family-specific entertainment. We’ll also have performing centres and stages for live shows, and also virtual reality products.”

Additionally, Ernest said that initial plans for the first project call for ‘specialty sports’ and aquatic facilities, as well as retail and dining areas.

While the same principles will be applied across all 20 projects, Ernest said they may have slight variations based on their locations.

“Some of them will differ from others. Each will be based on their size. We’re building within community and populated areas, so they will all take on a little different look and feel,” he said. “You’ll see the same sorts of components in each, but they may look different.”

Ernest added that the facilities will be built to be operational year-round, with planners taking into account the harsh heat of Saudi summers.

“One of the things we’re really focused on is making sure the guests come first, [especially] the guest’s wayfinding and journey within that space,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re very thoughtful about the way spaces are laid out.”

While Ernest declined to estimate when the first facility in Riyadh will open its doors to the public, he said that SEVEN will “have a much better feel” of the timeline over the next six months.

SEVEN was launched by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in 2017.

The PIF expects SEVEN’s collective projects to serve more than 50 million visitors each year, provide 22,000 direct jobs and contribute SAR 8 billion ($2.13 billion) to the Saudi economy by 2030.