National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey Announces Expansion into the Middle East, Starting with Collaboration with the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia

picture of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey logo

National Geographic Encounter announces its expansion with KBW Ventures and its partner, the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia to develop and launch up to 10 new locations with Ocean Odyssey, an entertaining and immersive walk-through adventure across the ocean from the South Pacific to the coast of California, throughout the region on an unprecedented scale. The first of several locations in Saudi Arabia will be situated in the city of Riyadh starting in 2019.

Coming off the heels of the recent successful opening of National Geographic Encounter’s flagship location in New York City’s Times Square, SPE Partners, creators and developers of Encounter, and its partner the Peterson Companies will once again engage a world-class global team of Academy, GRAMMY®, and Emmy® Award-winning artists, including the design firm Falcon’s Creative Group, Pixomondo which is the visual effects team behind “Game of Thrones,” and GRAMMY® Award-winning composer David Kahne, to produce this experience that is changing the landscape of entertainment and cinema. Through groundbreaking technology and stunning photo-realistic animation, guests are transported to extraordinary underwater destinations and gain access to rarely witnessed moments in nature.

“We are excited to bring this iconic brand and immersive experience into Saudi Arabia and provide premium entertainment in our country,” said Faisal Baraft, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia.

“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.”

“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, Founder and CEO of KBW Ventures.

National Geographic Encounter consulted with dozens of technologists and scientists to create a new kind of immersive experience that guests can walk through to share stunning ocean encounters with friends and family. Blockbuster new science – some of it not even published yet – was used in its creation. National Geographic Encounter is also working with marine biologist, professor and National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber, Chief Science Advisor to the experience and who specializes in bioluminescent and biofluorescent marine animals.

National Geographic Encounter Fun Facts:

  • Guests will get up close with dozens of species, including mischievous sea lions waiting for a playmate, sharks up to 20 feet long, a 50-foot Humpback whale, and a battle between two ferocious Humboldt squids which could have as many as 35,000 teeth each;
  • The coral reef was built from a process called photogrammetry, where more than 1,300 photos were taken on location in the Solomon Islands. The 2D photos were then used to construct 3D models of coral;
  • Kelp found throughout the experience is modeled after the Giant Kelp species, which grows at a rate of up to 2 feet per day; 120,000 fish make their appearance in the magnificent bait ball feeding frenzy.Once visitors “resurface” to land, they can go even deeper on their adventure in Exploration Hall, hearing breathtaking stories from National Geographic photographers and deep-sea explorers, including Sylvia Earle, Bob Ballard and Enric Sala, who through transparent multi-media screens, share their inspiration and passion for the ocean. Audiences can also enjoy a gaming challenge to clean up their own piece of the ocean and play with holograms of the sea’s greatest wonders and mightiest creatures. Everyone will have the opportunity to take an individual pledge to take action that makes a difference in ocean conservation, and share it with their social communities and on a live social feed, discovering how everyone can be a champion for our oceans in everyday life.“National Geographic has been igniting the explorer in all of us for 130 years through ground-breaking storytelling from the best scientists, explorers, photographers, and filmmakers in the world,” said Rosa Zeegers, Executive Vice President, Consumer Products and Experiences at National Geographic Partners. “Because of our partnership with SPE Partners, audiences have gotten to experience this in a completely new way as part of the enriching, immersive experience that National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey offers in New York. Encounter has been wildly successful, and has proven to be a powerful new storytelling platform for us that perfectly embodies our passionate belief in entertainment with purpose and is a natural extension of our brand. These expansion plans are very exciting, and we’re looking forward to delivering this one-of-a-kind experience to our important Middle East audience.”National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey helps support the National Geographic Society’s critical works around the globe, including the Pristine Seas Project. By returning a portion of its proceeds to the non-profit work of the Society, National Geographic Partners contributes to the Society’s critical work of exploring, understanding and protecting our ocean through scientific grants and programs. To learn more, visit more information, visit or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NatGeoENCOUNTER.###


National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey Media Contacts
Shin-Jung Hong, / Tel: 212.938.0005
Cristyne Nicholas, / Tel: 212.938.0002

National Geographic Media Contacts
Heather Wyatt, / Tel: 212.822.7093
Meg Calnan, / Tel: 202.912.6703

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 130 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About SPE Partners

SPE Partners, LLC, is a New York City-based entertainment developer, founded by entertainment executives Alexander Svezia and William Pennell, with the vision of transforming the cinematic experience. The company is run by managing partners Svezia, Pennell, Christine Kurtz, a 25-year executive in New York commercial real-estate, and Lisa Truitt, who is also SPE’s Chief Creative Officer and a 29-year veteran of National Geographic film, television, and specialty cinema. SPE aims to expand and revolutionize entertainment and storytelling, while delivering world-class guest experiences.

About Peterson Companies

Peterson Companies is one of the largest privately-held real estate and investment companies in the Washington, DC region. Over the past 53 years, the company has developed some of the most prominent and successful mixed-use retail/entertainment, residential and office developments in Northern Virginia and Maryland including National Harbor, Virginia Gateway, Downtown Silver Spring, RIO Washingtonian, Fairfax Corner, Fair Lakes, Burke Centre and Tysons McLean Office Park. In addition to an extensive real estate portfolio, there are several other companies and investments under the Peterson Companies umbrella including Vizuri Health Sciences and National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. For more information about the Peterson Companies, please visit

About KBW Ventures

KBW Ventures, founded by Chief Executive Officer HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models and the potential for significant financial returns while also delivering positive social impact. The KBW Ventures portfolio spans the venture capital spectrum from earlier stage ventures, to more established companies looking to expand into the Middle East. For more information contact

About the General Entertainment Authority

The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) is responsible for the development and regulation of the entertainment sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Through collaboration with other government bodies and the private sector, GEA aims to nurture a diverse and high-quality entertainment sector that meets the needs of all who live in and visit the Kingdom. The development of the entertainment sector is key to building a vibrant society, offering a good quality of life and attractive living environment for all – one of three core themes of Vision 2030.