Dragon Ball: First theme park to be built in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has announced it will build a theme park based on the famed Japanese animated series Dragon Ball, sparking mixed reactions from fans.

It will feature a 70m (229.6ft) dragon at its centre and at least 30 rides, the firm behind the project says.

The park would be the world's first such attraction based on the popular media franchise.

The announcement was met with some criticism from fans, citing Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

The park will cover more than half a million square metres, according to Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) which is wholly 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.

According to the official Dragon Ball website, the park will include a roller coaster inside the dragon modelled after Shenron, a wish-giving dragon that features in the franchise.

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

It is part of the energy-rich nation's plans to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels.

While some Dragon Ball fans have welcomed the plans for the theme park, others on social media have questioned the decision to locate the attraction in Saudi Arabia.

The country has been criticised for its human rights record, treatment of women and lack of recognition of LGBTQ+ rights.

The announcement comes 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.

Fans around the world paid tribute to Toriyama for creating characters that have become a part of their lives.

The Dragon Ball comic series debuted in 1984. It follows a boy named Son Goku in his quest to collect magical dragon balls that can give him super powers.

It is one of the most influential and best-selling Japanese comics of all time.