Game-changing venues

The Gaming & Esports District will cover an area of more than 500,000 sq m.

Marking a bold step towards its ambition of becoming a global tourism titan, Riyadh’s rising entertainment hub Qiddiya has unveiled two game-changing developments within a single month. First up, the ground-breaking Gaming and Esports District, poised to become the first multi-use gaming and esports district in the world. Then, the iconic Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium, the world’s first fully integrated venue that seamlessly blends a retractable roof, pitch and LED wall.

Being built from scratch in the desert 45 km outside Riyadh, Qiddiya’s vast 360-sq-km expanse lays claim to becoming the kingdom’s playground for entertainment, sports, and culture, spearheaded by Qiddiya Investment Company, a leading Saudi group backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of QIC, recently launched the urban design for Qiddiya City, which will feature 60,000 buildings.

Located 40 minutes from central Riyadh and overlooking the stunning cliffs of the formidable Tuwaiq mountains, Qiddiya City will include a speed park track, golf courses, a massive water theme park and Six Flags Qiddiya, apart from the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium and the Gaming & Esports District.

The Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium will be a futuristic venue perched atop the 200-m-high Tuwaiq cliff. Designed by leading global architectural firm Populous, the stadium will feature a combined retractable roof, pitch and LED wall, an architectural innovation offering unparalleled versatility and allowing the space to transform into different “event modes” in a matter of hours, according to QIC.

The LED wall will be a portal to live event broadcasts, high-definition films and laser shows, offering guests a novel, immersive experience with each visit. When not activated, it will open to reveal breathtaking views of Qiddiya City.

The Gaming & Esports District will feature gaming-themed apartments and hotels.

The Gaming & Esports District will feature gaming-themed apartments and hotels.

The development aims to draw visitors from across the globe and revolutionise the traditional stadium experience with its immersive design and unique technological features, putting spectators at the centre of the show.

Commenting on the launch, QIC Managing Director Abdullah bin Nasser Aldawood said: “Our ambition is for Qiddiya City to become a global destination for entertainment, sports and culture and this iconic new stadium will be at its very heart. The futuristic venue aims to reinvent the traditional stadium concept and embody the true spirit of Qiddiya’s Power of Play philosophy. It uses state-of-the-art technology and innovative, world-leading design to put the spectator at the centre of the experience.”

According to him, guests will be able to enjoy multiple spectacles in a single day, including football, boxing, esports, concerts as well as theatre performances.

The stadium, he stated, will deploy cutting-edge technology to provide fans with instant access to live data and information including the use of state-of-the-art holographic technology, enabling virtual interactions with celebrities and stars.

Integrated into the city fabric through a variety of transportation choices including park ’n ride and drop-off zones, the stadium will also be within direct proximity to 50,000 sq m of shopping, dining and entertainment spaces as well as hotel options.

Once open, the stadium will serve as the home ground of Saudi Pro League football clubs Al Hilal and Al Nassr and is one of the proposed venues for the Kingdom’s 2034 Fifa World Cup bid. It is also poised to host some of the region’s biggest sports events including the Saudi King Cup, the Asian Cup and possibly the 2034 Asian Games.

The Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium ... a futuristic venue perched atop the 200-m-high Tuwaiq cliff.

The Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium ... a futuristic venue perched atop the 200-m-high Tuwaiq cliff.

The venue will be able to host events all year-round in its climate-controlled facilities, where energy consumption will be reduced through an eco-friendly cooling lake built directly under the stadium. The lake will use rainwater captured from the stadium and the surrounding area to pre-cool the air-conditioning system.

“As a central venue in an urban entertainment district, this uniquely versatile space promises an extended play experience with direct and convenient access to Qiddiya City’s vibrant Gaming & Esport District as well as other city entertainment options,” noted Aldawood.

The unveiling of the stadium follows on the heels of the Gaming & Esports District launch at Qiddiya City.


Gaming and Esports District

The Gaming and Esports District within the giga development will cover more than 500,000 sq m, including 100,000 sq m dedicated to retail, dining and entertainment. Once completed, it will become the place for gamers to live, work and play, with gaming-themed apartments and hotels, according to QIC.

The new district is expected to include four arenas,  with a total capacity of 73,000 seats, designed to the highest standards to host the most prominent global events in the gaming sector throughout the year.

One of the venues will have 5,300 seats, making it one of the three largest esports stadiums in the world. It will also have the largest indoor LED screen among all esports areas around the world, it stated.

The district will also host up to 25 esports clubs from around the world to live, train and compete.


Theme parks

Meanwhile, work is in progress on a number of theme parks at Qiddiya including a water park and the Six Flags theme park which are reported to have crossed the halfway mark.  ALEC Engineering and Contracting (ALEC), in a joint venture with El-Seif Engineering Contracting, last year secured the order for the construction of a part of Qiddiya Speed Park. This follows the award of a SR2.8 billion contract to the joint venture partners in February 2022 to build Saudi Arabia’s first and the region’s largest water theme park, the Qiddiya Water Theme Park.

The Six Flags theme park is being built by Bouygues Batiment and Al Mabani General Contractors, and QIC has secured a $700 million financial facility for its construction.