RIYADH — Theme park chain Six Flags Entertainment Corp. says it is in “discussions” with Saudi Arabia to pursue developing amusement parks in the Kingdom.
The announcement early Wednesday morning by the Grand Prairie, Texas-based company comes after Dubai announced the day before it would call for an “exception to the destination’s exclusivity clause with (the) American theme park operator.”
Officials in Dubai hope to open a Six Flags theme park by late 2019. The Six Flags push in Saudi Arabia comes after its officials met with Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense.
The Deputy Crown Prince made tourism part of an economic diversification plan he outlined in April, called Vision 2030.
Chief Executive John Duffey said in a television interview last week that Six Flags, which operates 18 parks in North America, wanted to open a park in Saudi Arabia via a partnership.
To do so, Six Flags would have needed to work with Dubai Parks and Resorts, which holds exclusive rights via parent firm Meraas to develop and operate Six Flags-branded theme parks in the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which include Saudi Arabia.
However, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who owns Meraas, announced in a separate statement on Tuesday that Dubai Parks would waive its right to exclusivity in Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Muhammad said the decision was in line with his commitment to “free movement of knowledge and expertise between Arab economies.”
Any Six Flags park, however, would likely mostly serve the Kingdom’s estimated 28 million citizens, of which about two-thirds are under 30.