In a bid to help modernize the conservative Saudi Arabia, vegan prince Khaled bin Alwaleed plans to open a cruelty-free animated aquarium in Riyadh, the country’s capital.
Reported by Newsweek, Khaled was in New York this week in order to promote the project, which he is working on with National Geographic. Khaled hopes to open an even bigger animal-free exhibit similar to National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, which opened in Times Square in October 2017 and is the first aquarium of its kind.
According to the Ocean Odyssey website, “Encounter’s immersive technology lets you play with sea lions, get up-close with a majestic, life-sized humpback whale, and discover the incredible stories of National Geographic’s ocean explorers.”.
The decision to open a Saudi Arabian analog of the New York Ocean Odyssey comes as a result of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Alwaleed’s push to “promote a new vision of modern Islam for Saudi Arabia” by welcoming foreign musicians, movie theaters following the lifting of the country’s 35-year ban on movies. The new animal-free aquarium is a collaborative effort between the Saudi Arabian Entertainment Authority and Prince Khaled’s venture capital firm, KBW Ventures.
Khaled also said that he would like to see zoos abolished. “Who wants to see a polar bear in downtown San Diego?” the prince asked. “It makes no sense to use a zoo for an educational experience. The animals are taken out their home.”
Last year, Khaled became one of four new advisors to plant-based food brand Just (formerly known as Hampton Creek) following their loss of seven board members and is a prominent investor in cellular agriculture. “My main goal is to relegate factory farming and put it in the dustbin of history. That will happen before I die,” the prince said in an episode of the podcast #EatForThePlanet With Nil Zacharias.
Earlier this year, Khaled announced that he plans to open a minimum of 10 vegan restaurants in the Middle East by 2020. According to recent news, veganism is a growing movement in Saudi Arabia due to the obesity being the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
Image source: National Observer