Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.
Qiddiya Investment Company has unveiled the master plan for Qiddiya, the “Giga-Project” being constructed near Riyadh, set to become the Kingdom’s “Capital of Entertainment, Sports and the Arts”.
“The people of Saudi Arabia share the universal desire for enriching experiences, and our plan allows Qiddiya to unlock access to these experiences in a new and culturally relevant way, encouraging personal and professional pursuits that foster enrichment”, said Michael Reininger, Chief Executive Officer of Qiddiya Investment Company.
Located just 45 km from Riyadh, the 334 square kilometer site envisions development covering only 30 percent of the land leaving the majority of the site dedicated for natural conservation.
“This project sets a new global standard for the seamless integration of visitor-focused experiences and an innovative mix of program pieces, delivering an unparalleled entertainment destination”, said Bob Ward, Chairman of the Qiddiya Advisory Board.
The site is organized around five primary development nodes each with a unique purpose.
The Resort Core represents the heart of Qiddiya where four gated-attractions surround a central specialty retail, dining and entertainment district along with a portfolio of distinctive resort hotel offerings. Adjacent to the 15-hectare Retail, Dining & Entertainment district, is a major outdoor entertainment venue capable of hosting events from 5,000 to 40,000 visitors siting as a park like setting and punctuated with active skating and skiing facilities.
The 2022 opening phase features Six Flags Qiddiya, a family-oriented park filled with rides and attractions distributed throughout six themed lands. A second feature park is a water-oriented sports and entertainment attraction, which includes an integrated resort hotel.
The third feature is the “Speed Park” which brings together events and experiences from the world of motor sports in a venue that places equal emphasis on spectator and driver. The Speed Park includes tracks, showrooms, retail, a driver’s club and a luxury hotel within its gates.
Overlooking the Resort Core from its perch 200m above on the edge of the Tuwaiq escarpment, the City Centre is a mixed-use village dedicated to sports & the arts. Coupled to the entertainment core below by a funicular transportation system, residential, retail and workplace environments are organized around two intersecting pedestrian circulation spines linking a portfolio of feature facilities.
The City Centre is home to a collection of sports venues including a 20,000 seat cliff-top stadium, an 18,000 seat multi-purpose indoor arena, an aquatic center and a sports hub capable of hosting a cross-section of individual sports activities and events.
Arts and entertainment create a buzz throughout the city as they emerge from an innovative arts center, a signature 2,000 seat performing arts theatre and a premier multiplex cinema that dot the central walkways as primary destinations.
This 24/7 city is formed with additional uses woven into the plan. A creative campus offers workspace, media production and education facilities. A grand mosque anchors one end of the city with a place for worship and community gathering. Retail, service and dining options are delivered in a mixed use, high street setting with residences over shop fronts throughout the plan. A private school, a sports medicine hospital, and private villas along a biking/walking path on the Cliff’s Edge complete the composition.
To the North West of the Resort Core sits the Eco Core designed around a series of nature and wildlife encounters, an ecologically-sensitive golf course, outdoor sporting adventures and several unique hospitality offerings that take advantage of the picturesque desert environment.
The Motion Core to the South East of the Resort Core, will be home to events, experiences, residential and hospitality offerings that are driven by the science and technology of people in motion.
Along with a “Race Resort” where homes and club facilities provide access to a beautiful and challenging 15 km performance driving course, facilities for both on-road and off-road driving experiences, driver education and destination motor sports events will be constructed within a landscape surrounded by a mountain side backdrop.
A Golf and Residential Neighborhood sits near the center of the property where panoramic vistas of the project are available from an array of residential and resort offerings that include a championship 18 hole golf course and club house facilities, a luxurious resort hotel and spa and equestrian facilities—all accessed from villas, townhomes and private retreats.
A range of additional retail, residential, community services and commercial support facilities are distributed throughout the property for ease of access and utility that support the modern lifestyle Qiddiya is designed to deliver.
The Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) was incorporated in 2018, as a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. Announced by His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and of PIF, Qiddiya will be built 40km from downtown Riyadh, with a total area of 334 sq. km.
The project broke ground on 28th April, 2018 and phase one is set to open in 2022. A three-phased approach is currently underway for the entire project. 2019 will see the launch of the Visitor Experience Centre, the reveal of the masterplan as well as the start of construction for phase one.
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