Who wants to vacation on an oil rig?

January 17, 2024, 3:17 PM · Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund today announced the masterplan for The Rig., a 74-acre attraction to be built 25 miles off the coast of Al Jubail, in the Arabian Gulf.

The Rig. (yes, the extraneous period is part of the name) will include "an amusement park, splash park, an E-sports center, an immersive theater and multipurpose arena," as well as "three hotels totaling 800 rooms, along with 11 restaurants, an extreme sports & adventure park, a world-class marina, and helipads," according to the PIF's press release.

And, yes, as the project's name implies, it will all be themed to - and its design inspired by - an offshore oil platform.

The Rig
Image courtesy The Rig.

The project's goal is to attract more than 900,000 annual visitors by 2032, by "appealing to a wide range of domestic, regional and international audiences, including adrenaline seekers, explorers, balanced holiday makers, and relaxation seekers."

And The Rig. is to do all this while "celebrating the legacy of Saudi Arabia's rich oil and gas heritage."

A vacation on an oil rig?

I don't know that a celebration of fossil fuel extraction is the theme to entice the large numbers of the young visitors for whom The Rig.'s attractions seem intended. Nor do I know if a simulated oil platform is the type of vacation setting that "balanced holiday makers and relaxation seekers" have been pursuing these days.

But I am thrilled for the themed attraction designers who will be getting the contracts to create this. And I cannot wait to watch the videos from the influencers that the PIF pays to come experience The Rig. once it is built. (There's no timeline for that yet, save the stated 2032 attendance goal.) I especially can't wait to read the social media comments roasting those influencers, too.

After all, audacious projects such as The Rig. - and The Line and Six Flags Qiddiya's record-setting Falcon's Flight roller coaster - are designed to get people talking about Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination, instead of all the, uh, other stuff that people have tended to talk about on the topic of Saudi Arabia.

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Replies (6)

January 17, 2024 at 3:43 PM

Hand raised - As long as I get to operate the drill, log the hole, and profit from the resources discovered.

FWIW, there's a scripted series on Amazon Prime called "The Rig" that reminds me a bit of Lost minus the tropical climate. It's a British show, so if the Saudi's want to lure Europeans to this development, I would think they would probably need to change the name so it doesn't evoke the TV show where the characters don't have the most pleasant experiences while on The Rig.

Also, I anticipate that we'll start hearing about more themed entertainment projects in KSA now that it's destined for the Saudi's to land the 2034 World Cup after FIFA awarded the Centennial Edition of the event in 2030 to half of the world (Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco). FIFA typically does not award consecutive WCs to the same confederation, so with CONMEBOL (South America), UEFA (Europe), and AFCON (Africa) all sharing the 2030 event, that would leave CONCACAF (North and Central America), which is hosting the 2026 World Cup, Oceana, and Asia the only regions likely to be in line to host in 2034. KSA deliberately withdrew their bid on the 2030 event with the expectation that they're get fast-tracked to get the 2034 World Cup. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them to start pushing to win an Olympic games.

January 17, 2024 at 4:17 PM

Saudi Arabia and FIFA pulled a fast one with the 2034 World Cup bid. The amount of corruption within FIFA is mind-boggling. As Russell previously explained they fast-tracked past the other continental confederations turns and by "commemorating" 100 years of the World Cup they were able to bundle three different continents in a single year and bam! it is Asia's turn yet again. Truly insulting to the rest of the world. Africa (Morocco), South America (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay) and Europe (Spain, Portugal) each deserved their own world cup. Ugh this situation upsets me... ok venting over.

But yeah I don't thing this Rig. thing will ever come to fruition. It's just to weird.

January 17, 2024 at 7:56 PM

"Come celebrate how we disrupt the ecosystem of the ocean to pump out oil, whose emissions are making the world hotter which is causing all sorts of societal disasters, but made our country rich so that way we could build big palaces with gold toilets while arresting and whipping LBGT people. We have e-sports!"

I'm normally not a betting man, but I would definitely bet that this place is going to lose money. A lot of it. It's like they are addicted to making bad investments.

January 17, 2024 at 9:01 PM

Strange. I went to sleep on Jan 16th but must have somehow slept until April 1st.

January 17, 2024 at 9:06 PM

Yeah, it's strange, but sometimes strange sells. There are plenty of US (and non-US) prison hotels where you can pretend to be locked in jail. I gather that some are really popular. Don't count out strange.

January 18, 2024 at 8:43 AM

I guess the annual refurb on the Waterworld atoll is a tad more ambitious than we suspected. But given the history of the franchise, I'd say this is about right ;)

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