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World’s first ‘Dragon Ball’ theme park to open in Saudi Arabia with at least 30 rides as brutal regime ramps up tourism

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THE world’s first Dragon Ball theme park with 30 rides is set to open in Saudi Arabia as the country ramps up its efforts to attract tourists.

But, although some are excited for the comic-series-inspired park, others have slammed the country for its brutal regime.

Plans for world's first Dragon Ball theme park have been unveiled

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Plans for world’s first Dragon Ball theme park have been unveiledCredit: QIC
The park will have 30 roller coasters

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The park will have 30 roller coastersCredit: QIC
It will be the world's first attraction based on the Japanese media franchise, Dragon Ball

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It will be the world’s first attraction based on the Japanese media franchise, Dragon BallCredit: QIC
The plans are part of 'a long-term strategic partnership' between the QIC and Toei Animation

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The plans are part of ‘a long-term strategic partnership’ between the QIC and Toei AnimationCredit: QIC

Saudi Arabia is notorious for having a poor human rights record leading the unveiling of the park plans to be met with a frosty reception.

The theme park is expected to be a sight to behold, featuring a huge  70m dragon at its centre and more than 30 thrilling rides.

It will be the world’s first attraction based on the popular Japanese media franchise, Dragon Ball.

The park will cover more than half a million square metres, according to Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) which is owned by the Saudi Arabian government’s investment fund.

The plans are part of “a long-term strategic partnership” between the QIC and Toei Animation, the Japanese producer of Dragon Ball.

The park will have a roller coaster inside the fire-breathing beast, modelled after Shenron, a wish-giving dragon that features in the franchise.

Visitors can navigate seven distinctively themed zones Inspired by the seven legendary Dragon Balls and taking them into “the heart of the anime action”.

They will also be able to “immerse themselves in interactive and explorable landmarks from the Dragon Ball sagas, such as “Kame House, Capsule Corporation and Beerus’ Planet.”

Qiddiya is a major entertainment and tourism project being built near Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.

It is part of the nation’s plans to be more environmentally friendly and diversify its economy away from fossil fuels.

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While some Dragon Ball fans have welcomed the plans for the theme park, others on social media have questioned its location.

One person wrote: “Nothing could ever convince me to go to a country with so many extreme restrictions on personal freedom.

“If you want to become a world tourist attraction, you need to get up to the standards of most of the world.”

While another agreed saying: “The idea is great! The location not so much.”

But a third didn’t see any problem writing: “Awesome! Let’s gooo!!!”.

The announcement of the plans for the park was made just weeks after the death of Dragon Ball’s creator, Akira Toriyama.

Toriyama died on 1 March, aged 68. Only his family and very few friends attended his funeral, according to a statement on the Dragon Ball website.

It comes as Saudi Arabia plans to spend billions in an effort to attract more tourists.

The Kingdom aims to host 150 million tourists per year by 2030 to diversify its economy and increase foreign currency inflow to reduce dependence on oil.

Saudi Arabia has secured $13 billion in private sector investments for its tourism industry so far.

But beneath the glitzy facade lies a story of threats, forced evictions and bloodshed.

Many projects have faced fierce criticism over human rights abuses – including the $500billion Neom project where tribes were shoved out of their homeland, imprisoned or executed.

At least 20,000 members of the Huwaitat tribe face eviction, with no information about where they will live in the future.

Authorities in the port city of Jeddah also demolished many houses to implement Saudi’s development plans – with thousands of locals evicted illegally.

One campaigner claimed “Neom is built on Saudi blood”.

Jeed Basyouni, Middle East director of the human rights organisation Reprieve, told DW: “We have seen, time and again, that anyone who disagrees with the crown prince, or gets in his way, risks being sentenced to jail or to death.”

Saudi Arabia’s brutal regime

Saudi Arabia is renowned for having a brutal regime where individuals are targeted for exercising freedom of expression and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after “grossly unfair trials.”

The country has also been accused of Sportswashing which is the idea that an association with something widely enjoyed can ease bad reputation.

Saudi is notorious for having “abysmal” human rights and critics of the government are often jailed or exiled.

The Saudi state has come under severe criticism over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Middle Eastern countries have been accused of pumping money into top tier football to gain popularity with the hopes their reputation will be overlooked.

This includes the purchase of Premier league teams Newcastle United, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton has spoken out about the country’s reputation with human rights and said: “It is obviously mindblowing to hear the stories. I have heard there is a letter that has been sent to me, for example, from a 14-year-old that is on death row.

“At 14, you don’t know what the hell you are doing in life.”

Visitors can navigate 7 distinctively themed zones

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Visitors can navigate 7 distinctively themed zonesCredit: Qiddiya
The park comes as Saudia Arabia increase efforts to attract more tourists

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The park comes as Saudia Arabia increase efforts to attract more touristsCredit: Qiddiya
The park will feature a huge  70m dragon at its centre

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The park will feature a huge  70m dragon at its centreCredit: Qiddiya
inside the dragon there will be a dragon inspired roller coaster

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inside the dragon there will be a dragon inspired roller coasterCredit: Qiddiya
The creator of the series Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama, died recently

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The creator of the series Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama, died recently

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