Six Flags over Saudi: US company announces theme park partnership

Published June 21st, 2016 - 07:00 GMT
A roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California. (Go California)
A roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California. (Go California)

Big US investors are making a beeline to Saudi Arabia thanks to Saudi Vision 2030 which is being ably marketed in the US by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense.

Investors will now have flexibility to structure their company optimally to benefit from the Saudi market, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority said.

“They may seek 100 percent ownership or operate through a joint venture,” it said.

US chemicals giant Dow became the first company to get a license under new Saudi rules allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in the trade sector.

The Deputy Crown Prince, who is on a visit to the US, presented the license to Dow chairman Andrew Liveris in Washington.

US firms 3M and Pfizer are going to follow suit, according to Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Qasabi.

The entry of multinational tech company Apple into the Saudi market is also under discussion, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

The world’s largest amusement park corporation Six Flags is set to open up investments in Saudi Arabia following a meeting between its Executive Chairman Jim Reid-Anderson and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

In a statement to Al Arabiya News Channel, Chief Executive Officer and President at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation John M. Duffey said the company was proud to enter this agreement to provide entertainment facilities” for the Kingdom.

In his statement, Duffey also emphasized the importance of bringing entertainment facilities to citizens as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“We share Saudi Arabia’s vision to bringing entertainment to the country.

We share the same vision with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and are prepared to providing multiple options in a bid to translate that vision into reality,” he added.

Providing a space for entertainment and promoting culture is featured prominently in Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future that was announced in April.

US restaurant group Arby’s has agreed a franchise development agreement for 25 locations in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia last month.

This is the chain’s first international push since it revealed plans to open outlets in Turkey in 2010, reports Gulf Business. The Middle East locations will be owned and operated by Kharafi Global — the regional franchise owner of Johnny Rockets.

The outlets will be mainly standalone with many located at the bottom floor of office buildings, Arby’s chief executive Paul Brown told Bloomberg recently.

All 25 in the region are expected to open over the next seven years. The quick service sandwich chain entered the market in the 1960s and, currently, most of its restaurants are based in the US.

Prince Muhammad is the driving force behind Vision 2030, an economic diversification plan which he released in April.

It aims to wean the Kingdom off oil, which remains its main revenue source. Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program, which sets targets for implementing it, seek to boost non-oil revenues and employ more Saudis.

In line with the Vision, ministers on Monday approved rules for foreign companies to invest in the wholesale and retail trade sector with 100 percent ownership, up from 75 percent.

Dow said the trading license advances its ability to deliver products in the areas of sustainable development, energy efficiency, oil and gas, alternative energy and water.

After Prince Muhammad met Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other top US economic policymakers last Wednesday, the White House “underscored the United States’ desire to be a key partner in helping Saudi Arabia implement its ambitious economic reform program.”

Dow calls itself Saudi Arabia’s largest foreign investor.

Its stakes include Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture with Saudi oil giant Aramco.


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