Satellite Images Show Massive Theme Park Taking Shape in Saudi Arabia

A massive new water and theme park is being constructed in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, part of yet another megaproject commissioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of his vision to turn the kingdom into a top tourism destination.

When it’s finished, after years of delays, Acquarabia will become Saudi Arabia’s first water park and also among the largest on Earth. New satellite imagery provided exclusively to Newsweek from Maxar Technologies shows the park beginning to take shape ahead of its grand opening scheduled for next year.

Water Park Saudi Arabia
Located in the Tuwaiq Mountains, Acquarabia will be part of the Qiddiya City complex, a new cosmopolis rising near downtown Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Located in the Tuwaiq Mountains, 25 miles from downtown Riyadh, Acquarabia is part of Qiddiya City, a new entertainment complex that itself is part of bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 program intended to diversify the country’s economy away from oil. The park will span more than 2.5 million square feet and feature 22 rides and attractions, including what’s being billed as the world’s tallest water coaster and water slide.

Acquarabia’s extreme watersports zone will offer activities such as rafting, kayaking, canyoneering, free solo climbing, and cliff jumping — all marketed as an easy 40-minute drive from the capital and its main international airport.

As part of Qiddiya City, Acquarabia will be joined by a brand new Six Flags amusement park, featuring the world’s tallest, fastest and longest rollercoaster, as well as a Formula One race track. The complex will also house the world’s first themed Dragon Ball park, dedicated to the popular anime series.

Qiddiya City
Aerial overview of the planned Qiddiya City complex, which will include the Acquarabia Water Park, a Six Flags park, a Dragon Ball themed park and a Formula One race track.


While the costs for the park’s construction have not been disclosed, real estate consultancy Knight Frank has estimated the Qiddiya megaproject to cost $9.8 billion. Like other Saudi megaprojects currently under construction, the park is being financed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, known as PIF.

Acquarabia sat image 3
Satellite imagery shows construction work at Acquarabia, part of the new planned Qiddiya megaproject near Riyadh, Saudia Arabia.


Construction of the water park first began in 2019 with plans to open the first phase by 2023. After missing that deadline, work on both Acquarabia and the Six Flags is now scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Acquarabia Render
Rendering of the planned Acquarabia park in the Qiddiya City Complex, Saudi Arabia. Construction began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2025.

Qiddiya Investment Company

Qiddiya is one of several ambitious megaprojects currently underway across Saudi Arabia, joining the likes of the planned megacity NEOM and its flagship ‘vertical skyscraper’ dubbed The Line, as well as the construction of what will be the world’s tallest skyscraper in Jeddah.

Smaller scale cultural initiatives, such as last week’s historic swimsuit fashion show, are all part of Crown Prince bin Salman’s strategy of boosting Saudi Arabia’s global image at a time when the kingdom — and bin Salman personally — have come under fire for a wide array of alleged human rights abuses.

Construction for #QiddiyaCity is progressing rapidly: see how we’re bringing to life the first city built for play 🏗️🎢#PlayLife

The country, which is an absolute monarchy, is regularly criticized by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for its record on issues from women’s rights to freedom of speech to its use of the death penalty and the silencing of dissident voices like Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-American journalist who was murdered in 2018. U.S. intelligence agencies believe bin Salman personally approved the operation that led to his death, which the crown prince has denied.