Following the passing of renowned manga artist Akira Toriyama, Saudi Arabia has unveiled its intentions to construct the world’s very first Dragon Ball theme park, as part of the expansive Qiddiya tourism project. This colossal entertainment venue, spanning an impressive 5.3 million square feet, is set to feature seven distinct zones inspired by the beloved Japanese anime series, entailing over 30 themed rides, lodging facilities, and dining establishments.

The park, a joint effort between the Qiddiya Investment Company and Toei Animation, aims to pay homage to the cherished franchise crafted by Toriyama. Among the numerous attractions, there will be five exhilarating rides, including the towering Shenron roller coaster, paying tribute to the series’ iconic mystical dragon. Additionally, visitors can expect to encounter other themed areas inspired by prominent locations from the Dragon Ball universe, such as Kame House, Capsule Corporation, and Beerus’s Planet.

The establishment of the Qiddiya Dragon Ball attraction coincides with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This forward-looking program aims at diversifying the nation’s economy and enhancing its tourism sector. With the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund actively engaging in cultural and entertainment projects, Qiddiya City is poised to become a top-tier destination, offering an extensive array of attractions, ranging from golf courses to water parks.

Controversies Surrounding the Announcement

Although the unveiling of the theme park has generated excitement among fans of manga and anime in Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world, it has also sparked criticism from certain quarters. Concerns have been raised regarding Saudi Arabia’s human rights track record, treatment of women, and disregard for LGBTQ+ rights. Moreover, the widely condemned actions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including the alleged ordering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, have attracted further scrutiny and disapproval.

The passing of Akira Toriyama marked the end of an era for fans of the Dragon Ball series. However, the forthcoming creation of the world’s first Dragon Ball theme park in Saudi Arabia signifies a new chapter in the saga of this beloved franchise. While the park promises to be a one-of-a-kind immersive experience for enthusiasts, it also shines a light on the complexities and controversies surrounding its location and the individuals backing its development. Only time will tell how this ambitious project unfolds in the face of mounting scrutiny and critique from various quarters.


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