Saudi Arabia Created a Colossal Ocean Resort to Make Big Oil Look Cool

Who doesn't want vacation on an oil rig?
Derya Ozdemir

In the wake of climate change and its disastrous repercussions, scientists may be urging countries to reduce and eliminate their use of fossil fuels, but some nations have other ideas. Saudi Arabia, which possesses around 17 percent of the world's proven petroleum reserves, has announced a new strategy to make oil rigs seem friendlier to the public.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, the country's sovereign wealth fund, has unveiled "THE RIG," a 1.6 million-square-foot (150,000-square-meter) resort that's inspired by offshore oil platforms.

THE RIG. will be based on an oil rig in the Persian Gulf, complete with three hotels, 800 rooms, eleven restaurants, a roller coaster, a water slide, a Ferris wheel, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and a performance arena, among many other offerings and attractions. It'll also be accessible by boat, yacht, cruise, or helicopter, the PIF said.

A promotional video depicts images of water slides built atop a drilling platform, as well as a steel-and-glass hotel atrium in the attraction's center.

“Offshore platforms were created for discovery. THE RIG. takes that legacy to the next level,” according to a statement on the resort’s website. The Public Investment Fund maintains it will follow “leading global standards and best practices” on environmental protection in order to "ensure preservation of environment" surrounding THE RIG.

THE RIG.'s location was not disclosed by the PIF, but it's known that many of Saudi Arabia's oil platforms are grouped off the east coast city of Dammam. It's unclear if the rig will be built from the ground up or converted from a current oil rig. The PIF did not provide an opening date either, just stating that the initiative was part of its 2021-2025 strategy.

Saudi Arabia, oil, and climate change

The country, whose vast wealth is dependent on fossil fuels, presented its "Saudi Arabia Green Initiative" in March, coupled with a "Middle East Green Initiative," as part of a vow to decrease carbon emissions and slow desertification. It plans to cut emissions by planting 10 billion trees and generating 50 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030, and it also ratified the Paris climate agreement in 2015, pledging to pursue measures to limit global warming to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels. The pact calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Back in June, however, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s leading energy advisor, issued its harshest warning yet on global fossil fuel use, stating that extraction and development of new oil and gas fields must cease this year if the world is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. According to CNBC, Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world's biggest oil producers, termed the IEA's net-zero plan 'unrealistic,' stating they'll continue business as usual by investing in oil and gas.

In August, Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports increased to its highest level in seven months, with around 6.45 million barrels per day shipped, a rise from 6.327 million recorded in July.

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