National Geographic Encounter announced a partnership with KBW Ventures to open up to 10 new locations in the Middle East, expanding Encounter’s Portfolio around the World. The founder and CEO of KBW Ventures is Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, the Californian-born heir of the Saudi Arabian royal family. The first of several locations in Saudi Arabia will be in the city of Riyadh starting in 2019.
Saudi Arabia, which touts that 70% of its population is under the age of 30, is an ideal location for technology investment. “Our goal at SPE and Peterson is to expand and revolutionize entertainment and storytelling, while delivering world-class guest experiences,” said Alexander Svezia, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of SPE Partners. “We aim to combine the power of technology with the awe of entertainment to advance science and conservation, and KBW shares that vision. The General Entertainment Authority’s mission, to create a vibrant society and provide exciting entertainment and tailored experiences in Saudi Arabia, aligns perfectly. We are excited to bring ‘entertainment with purpose’ to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
As reported by Crain’s NY, in October, National Geographic Encounter opened its Ocean Odyssey in Times Square on 44th Street, creating an immersive simulated exploration adventure across the ocean from the South Pacific to the coast of California. Since its opening, the exhibit has astonishingly already received roughly 250,000 viewers, including 14,000 students on organized trips. Visitors encounter life like 3-D images of sharks, humpback whales, giant squids, and other marine life, with the help of ground breaking technology.
The prince, who is a vegan, applauded the technology of the “virtual zoo” as well as its educational aspects. “When I first visited National Geographic Encounter and saw that the experience brings people around the globe into the natural world of wildlife, I knew that this was the future. We also believe in Encounter’s ‘entertainment with purpose’ ethos, especially with our current work with Future Oceans, an organization whose mission is to protect all marine wildlife,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed.
KBW Ventures, which was spearheaded in 2014, has committed not to invest in alcohol, tobacco, gambling or any anti-environmental entities. With investments in five continents, and majorly based in Silicon Valley, his main focus has been on ventures that integrate innovation and economic stability. Among its alliances, KBW has partnered with NGP, a foremost producer of robotic parking systems. Other partnerships include TTM Post Tensioning, which does tension technology solutions, as well as Square, Inc., a mobile payment company based in San Francisco, California. The prince is also a general partner in the $150 million Proof Venture Fund, which invests in small start-ups.
By: Hellen Zaboulani