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Gulf events turning to inflatable domes

A DBS Engineering air dome in Helsinki. The company is about to complete its second project in Saudi Arabia DBS Engineering
A DBS Engineering air dome in Helsinki. The company is about to complete its second project in Saudi Arabia
  • Air domes ideal for events in hot regions
  • Manufacturer sees ‘huge’ potential
  • Venue versatility is critical

A Slovenian leader in the manufacture of high-tech air domes is seeking expansion across the Gulf after capturing deals in Saudi Arabia.

DBS Engineering has agreements with the Ministry of Investment, Alwaseel Sport City, Filling & Packing Materials Co (Fipco) and Zamil Industrial.

The company said it will soon complete its second project in Qassim in Saudi Arabia and added that potential growth in the kingdom is “huge”. 

DBS has built 12 air domes in Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

It has also been in talks with Neom, the $500 billion giga project. 

DBS is responsible for more than 1.5 million sq m of domed space including the world’s largest sport air dome venue in Ireland.

The Connacht GAA air dome in County Mayo, IrelandSupplied
The Connacht GAA air dome in County Mayo, Ireland

Air domes are anchored to the ground without any kind of construction. Blowers pump air to keep it inflated and structurally sound.

Brint Jackson, chief venues officer of Ethara, a newly launched events company based in Abu Dhabi, said venue versatility is critical to unlocking the Middle East’s vast events potential.

“Versatility is the industry’s biggest challenge, but also its biggest opportunity.

“Venues must be able to host varied genres of events to cater to all audiences – from sports and live music to theatrical performances, and everything in between.”

Omar Hadid, cluster manager for the Middle East region at DBS Engineering, told AGBI: “Air domes have been built in Europe and the US for decades but they are still relatively new here, and the region offers a lot of potential for us.

“Demand is growing and our meeting with the Ministry of Investment in Saudi Arabia was brilliant so we hope to build many more projects in the kingdom.”

Air domes use technology to control temperatures inside, he said, adding that they are also classed as temporary structures meaning they do not fall foul of planning rules.

“Let’s say you want to host a concert for 10,000 people in the desert and you want it built in two or three months. That’s where air domes are perfect,” Hadid said.

A DBS Engineering air dome in RiyadhDBS Engineering
A DBS Engineering air dome in Riyadh

Under a deal announced in July, Tadawul-listed Fipco said its subsidiary FPC Industries Co is teaming up with DBS in a bid to “revolutionise” sports infrastructure, exhibitions and event tents in the kingdom.

The non-binding deal, which runs for an initial 12 months, aims to implement air domes across the kingdom in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which is attracting major global sports and cultural events to the country.

Hadid said Fipco will supply the raw materials needed to make the air domes in the region, adding that up to 70 percent of the product will be sourced from companies in the kingdom.

In January, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of a fund which aims to position the kingdom as a worldwide centre for culture, tourism, entertainment and sports events.

The Events Investment Fund will conceptualise, finance and oversee the development of more than 35 venues by 2030.

The fund’s assets include indoor arenas, art galleries, theatres and conference centres, horse racing and auto tracks.