A parade of U.S. companies abandoned plans to attend a big Saudi Arabian conference after the killing of a Washington Post journalist. But Six Flags Entertainment Corp. wasn’t one of them.

One of its executives, David McKillips, posed for a photo with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of this week’s Future Investment Initiative, according to Al Arabiya. And the theme-park operator is sticking with plans to open in the country under a licensing deal.

Chief Financial Officer Marshall Barber said on a conference call Wednesday that the Saudi park was “scheduled to open up in 2023.”

The theme-park operator is under pressure to build its presence overseas, especially as attendance growth slows in the U.S. Shares of Six Flags suffered their biggest plunge ever on Wednesday after the company posted weak quarterly results.

The Grand Prairie, Texas-based company announced a deal with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in April. The idea is to bring the Six Flags brand to Qiddiya, a resort that aims to be “Saudi Arabia’s first entertainment, sports and cultural destination.”

Six Flags didn’t respond to requests for comment on its Saudi plans or McKillips’s attendance at the conference, dubbed “Davos in the Desert.”

Six Flags was one of several entertainment companies in the spring to cozy up to Saudi Arabia under a purported liberalization plan by the crown prince. Cirque du Soleil has already performed shows in the region. And cinema giant AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. discussed plans to generate $1 billion in revenue by opening theaters in the country.

The death of writer Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has cast a cloud over the corporate push. But Six Flags, for one, isn’t showing signs of backing away.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.


This article was written by Anousha Sakoui from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: A ride at a Six Flags theme park is pictured. The Texas-based operator has plans to open a branded park in Saudi Arabia. Bloomberg / Patrick T. Fallon