The Rig theme park turns Saudi money steampunk

Saudi Arabia, the rig, oil rig theme parkThe Rig is a revamped oil rig off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to be steam-punked into 3 hotels, 800 rooms, 11 restaurants, a roller coaster, a water slide, a Ferris wheel

Saudi Aramco, the largest company in the world, and now publicly-traded on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, bankrolls oil money so you can come visit Saudi Arabia and be impressed by oil money and teach the kids how oil rigs work. The new “extreme park” theme park set to be ready by 2025 will revamp an out-dated Saudi Arabian oil rig turning its shafts and platforms into hotels, restaurants, roller coasters and water slides that soar into the Red Sea.

Get in line early as only 50 yachts can dock at its port. Otherwise you will need to arrive by cruise ship or helicopter.

Saudi Aramco, owned by Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and his family, puts money into the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which then goes on to build outrageous, out of touch so-called “sustainable” mega projects like Neom, The Line and Trojena, a skill hill in the hot desert

If you think about The Rig, and the practice of repurposing the built environment, it is actually a better idea than all of other hair-brained ideas that Westerners have sold to Saudi’s prince and which he has green-lit, with more than a bit of green-washed marketing and PR rolled into the result. I’ll give the Saudis this: Taking existing structures and repurposing them for tourism and travel al la Mad Max is a smart idea. Saudis don’t need to hide their oil history. And we can’t be so 2-faced to not acknowledge that modern life is fuelled by cheap oil.

the rig, oil rig hotel in Saudi Arabia

A sensational stop in the Red Sea

the rig, oil rig hotel in Saudi Arabia

Extreme, extreme sports

the rig, oil rig hotel in Saudi Arabia

Concerts and venue hall

The rig underwater hotel

Dine at The Rig’s underwater hotel

An oil rig room with a view

Every room has an endless view

The scale of it, in terms of energy needs (how will it run?), water and food, and human waste and garbage – are questions that need good answers. We know that Gulf countries might like to think about those unimportant things as an afterthought — consider Burj Khalifa, that giant tower, where trucks of human waste get hauled away each day. 

The Rig’s not right in a climate crisis

“Offshore platforms were created for discovery,” advertises the project in marketing copy. “The Rig takes that legacy to the next level. This is the ultimate living laboratory for pioneering new thrills, extreme sports and adventure. Climb aboard and experience the future of adventure.”

A Gizmodo writer hates the idea, calling it evil: “Now, all of that might sound cool in an alternate reality in which our planet wasn’t in a climate crisis and where fomenting needless pollution was a good idea. But we live in this reality, where fossil fuel companies are wrecking the climate and humanity is in a “code red.

“In this reality, Saudi Arabia’s shameless attempt to court the public’s favor for its oil rigs by literally creating a nice, shiny, and fun rig is despicable. It’s also dangerous because it downplays the challenges posed by climate change.”

House of Saud, Turaif, saudi Arabia mud palace, UNESCO site

Turaif, the original House of Saud home in Saudi Arabia

Well… from all the ideas that have been funded by Saudi’s PIF recently, we like this one the best along with opening up the ancestral House of Saud, a mud palace in Turaif.  If you are starting out as an architect and looking for a sensible sustainable direction don’t look to The Rig, start with Rotterdam


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