Qiddiya ... to be home to a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Saudi-based Qiddiya Investment Company announced last month that Jack Nicklaus – the globally renowned golf course designer and the greatest champion in the game’s history with a record 18 major championships to his name – will be designing his first-ever golf course in Saudi Arabia, which will be built in Qiddiya city.

This is yet another milestone in the development of the new 334-sq-km Qiddiya, the kingdom’s capital of entertainment, sports and arts, being built from scratch, 45 km outside Riyadh.

The planning of the course has been undertaken by QIC in consultation with Golf Saudi.

QIC says Jack and Nicklaus Design will be creating the championship course for a private golf and country club, set within an exclusive residential community in the heart of the Qiddiya development, with ground expected to be broken later this year.

Infrastructure work under way at Qiddiya.

Infrastructure work under way at Qiddiya.

The golf course will be framed by the majestic Tuwaiq mountain range, it adds.

 Commenting on Nicklaus’ involvement, Yasir O Al Rumayyan, Chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, says: “To have the greatest-ever golfer commit to making his mark upon our developing golf landscape in Saudi Arabia and at a project as significant as Qiddiya gives us great pride.

 “To be part of the Nicklaus legacy will be something that we will always cherish, especially knowing the positive impact it will have on growing awareness of the sport at a domestic level, whilst increasing our national visibility as a vibrant new golf destination.”

On the signature golf course, Nicklaus says: “I am excited by this project and my first golf course design in the Middle East. To be selected as one of the first international designers to work in the kingdom is a great honour. I’ve already spent time looking at the topography of the land, images of the backdrop and terrain, and discussing with our design team a strategy for the course.

“The design will fully integrate the natural environment and the beautiful Qiddiya landscape, bringing together green spaces and mountainous terrain to form a picturesque canvas for both a beautiful and challenging golf course.”

The Nicklaus-designed course is the centrepiece of what has been positioned as the most exclusive golf residential community in the kingdom.

The golf development will include a high-end resort hotel and spa, as well as exclusive residences, that once finished will position the destination as both the premier golf and country club and number one course in the kingdom.

It will be built to the highest standards, with a view to hosting the most prestigious international championships in future years, challenging elite golfers while providing casual players with an opportunity to enjoy the sport and develop their skills, it states.

Further expanding the sport in the kingdom, Qiddiya will be seeking designers for a second golf course. Together, these two courses will provide top-notch golfing facilities for residents and day visitors to Qiddiya, from elite players to those just learning the sport, says its top official.

“The underlying philosophy behind this entire Qiddiya development is to introduce a new, active lifestyle to the people of Saudi Arabia. This project has been carefully planned to ensure an unmatched resort experience for both golfers and regular guests,” remarks its CEO Philippe Gas.

“We expect the Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and residential offering to provide the most entertaining challenge for golfers and the most appealing homesteads for residents seeking an extraordinary lifestyle,” he adds.

Late last year, QIC flagged off plans for its Six Flags Qiddiya theme park by appointing Atkins – part of SNC-Lavalin, a leading engineering and construction group – to undertake the lead design consultant services for the project.

Six Flags Qiddiya is scheduled for opening during the first phase of Qiddiya. The park will stretch across 32 hectares and feature 28 uniquely themed rides and attractions across six lands: The City of Thrills, Discovery Springs, Steam Town, Twilight Gardens, Valley of Fortune and Grand Exposition, says SNC-Lavalin.

Meanwhile, infrastructure work continues on site with Shibh Al Jazira Contracting Company (Sajco) engaged on a three-year major stormwater drainage, roads and bridges contract. The scope of work includes development of 45-km-long roads and seven bridges and grade-separated interchanges.

These will provide access from the main approach highway, deep into Qiddiya’s Resort Core with its theme parks and other attractions, towards the Motion Zone, home to world-class motor racing facilities, and to Qiddiya’s spectacular Golf and Equestrian Community with its championship courses and residential offerings.

To build these roads, Sajco will excavate 6.5 million cu m of earth, utilise more than 80,000 cu m of concrete for the bridges and associated structures and 1.2 million sq m of asphalt for the road surfaces.

Two other key construction contracts were awarded to Saudi companies: Abdul Ali Al Ajmi, which is responsible for the site preparation works, and Saudi Pan Kingdom Company (Sapac) for the perimeter fencing works.

The Qiddiya project was first announced by HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in April 2017 and construction of the project began in 2019.

QIC is looking at opening the first phase of the development in 2023, with Phase Two to be developed in 2023-2024, and Phase Three in 2026-2035. Phase One will include more than 45 projects and over 300 individual activities.

The masterplan of the massive development drawn up by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was unveiled in July 2019, swiftly followed in August by the unveiling of the design for Six Flags Qiddiya theme park.