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Qiddiya: A sports and arts revolution

Artist's impression of the planned cliff-top football stadium in Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia's entertainment and sports complex south-west of Riyadh Qiddiya
Artist's impression of the planned cliff-top football stadium in Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia's entertainment and sports complex south-west of Riyadh

Marketed as the kingdom’s capital of entertainment, sports and the arts, Qiddiya is beginning to take shape 45 minutes’ drive south-west of Riyadh.

First announced in 2017 as part of Vision 2030, Qiddiya has a dual economic and social purpose – to contribute to the advancement of Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification and to open up the kingdom to the world.

Covering a total area of 367 square kilometres (223 of which will form the planned developed area), the project’s master plan includes a resort core, a motion zone, eco zone, golf community and Qiddiya Village.

It is expected to contribute significantly towards job creation, with the project prioritising business opportunities for local companies and hoping to repatriate billions of dollars spent by Saudis on outbound tourism every year.

Among its developments will be a cliff-top stadium with a capacity in excess of 40,000 that will become the home ground for both Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal football clubs. 

The construction of major roads and bridges on the upper plateau of the site was begun by Haif & Freyssinet in September 2020, with the $533 million contract scheduled for completion in August 2023.

Shibh Al Jazira Contracting Company is also expected to finish a three-year stormwater drainage, roads and bridges contract by mid-May 2023. The latter includes the construction of 45 kilometres of roads and seven bridges and grade-separated interchanges. 

The development of Qiddiya is being driven by the Qiddiya Investment Company, a joint-stock company fully owned by PIF. Currently in its design and construction phase, the fully integrated destination hopes to attract 17 million visitors a year, provide 25,000 jobs and contribute up to $4.5 billion to the country’s GDP by 2030. 

Qiddiya is an entertainment megaproject to be established in Riyadh
Qiddiya is an entertainment megaproject to be established in Riyadh

It will include parks and attractions, sports stadia, concert and entertainment venues, racetracks and outdoor and adventure activities. Last year, a number of key assets were announced, including a Jack Nicklaus championship golf course and Six Flags Qiddiya’s signature attraction, The Falcon’s Flight.

The contract to build Six Flags Qiddiya was awarded to Bouygues Bâtiment International, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, and Saudi Almabani General Contractors in December. Valued at $1 billion, the joint venture is expected to complete construction of the theme park, which will cover 320,000 square metres and feature 28 rides and attractions, by 2023.

Speaking at the time of the agreement, Abdullah Aldawood, board member and managing director of Qiddiya Investment Company, said: “With this signing, we are embarking on major steps towards building the kingdom’s future destination for entertainment, sports and the arts.” 

This was followed in February by the awarding of a $750 million contract to build the country’s first water theme park. A joint venture between ALEC Saudi Arabia Engineering & Contracting and El Seif Engineering Contracting, the contract will see the construction of a park covering 252,000 square metres. Featuring 22 rides and attractions, it is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.  

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