Travel Inspiration: Offshore Oil Rig-Turned Luxury Extreme Amusement Park in Saudi Arabia

Ironically, The Rig is part of the oil-rich nation’s plan to seek fortunes outside of the world of oil in a more sustainable fashion.
Words by Kenneth Lee

An offshore oil rig – simply named The Rig – that spans 150,000 sqm in the middle of the Arabian gulf will soon be turned into a fully-functional luxury theme park, complete with three hotels (comprising 800 rooms), eleven restaurants and all the entertainment one would need.

This includes adventure activities like extreme sports – think ziplining, snorkelling and rock climbing going by the promotional materials – to go with the suite of dining and hospitality options. Rollercoasters, water slides, parasailing and submarine dives also seem to be on the menu. Live shows and crazy offshore parties (Crazy Rich Asians, anyone?) can also be expected.

(You may like: Desert Rock luxury eco-resort lets you sleep in the mountains of Saudi Arabia)


The Rig itself will be accessible through ferry or cruise – or yacht and helicopter for the exceptionally posh. In short, it’s designed as an extreme, exclusive escape, sort of like a private island, but entirely man-made.

It’s the latest lifestyle-focused development by Saudi Arabia in hopes of reducing its reliance on black gold. Oil that the Arabic Kingdom exports around the world, accounting for some 87 per cent of its budget revenue, says Forbes. Oil that’s around a sixth of what’s left in the world, according to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC’s) website. 

Calling Saudi Arabia oil-rich doesn’t really cut it. But that won’t last forever, which is why the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman five years ago announced the kingdom’s intentions to move away from oil; enter Saudi Vision 2030, an initiative that hopes to expanding the nation’s economy into a number of other sectors (including health, renewable energy and tourism), headlined by mega-ventures like the The Red Sea Project.

All this subtext makes the redevelopment of an offshore oil rig into a lifestyle destination deliciously apt, regardless of how exciting it ends up being. Not that a jaunt on the resort will be at all boring, since you’ve got access to a full suite of luxury entertainment options ranging from bungee jumping and water sports to undersea dining experiences.

The project is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. They promise to create a project that’s “a significant value-add to the local economy”, including “sustainable preservation of the environment in the project’s vicinity”, says the press release.

This theme park is all part of the nation’s plan to attract 100 million visitors annually by 2030 – incidentally, also the year by which they’ve recently pledged to sink 700 billion riyals (S$251 billion) into environmental initiatives. The country’s lofty environmental goals, recently unveiled at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as COP26), include net carbon-neutrality by 2060, not including any oil its exporting.

No proper opening date hasn’t been announced just yet, but you can take a gander at what they have to offer on The Rig’s website.

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