Complex Made Simple

Mega entertainment project Qiddiya: The show must go on

Saudi Qiddiya is entertaining bids for the develoment of the biggest fun-filled project in the kingdom

Qiddiya expects to receive around 1.5 million visitors annually when its first phase opens in 2022 Qiddiya covers 334 square kilometers outside of Riyadh and have a Six Flags Entertainment Corp theme park, private race track and an off-road zone Qiddiya hopes to draw 17 million visitors annually and build new sectors that will contribute up to 17 billion riyals ($4.5 billion) to Saudi’s GDP

It was recently reported that the Brits are lining up for Saudi Qiddiya. It’s no surprise.

Announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 as part of Saudi Vision 2030, the development is set for a 2035 completion and will include a mix of amusement parks, sports areas, car and bike trails, water parks, natural environments and cultural offers.

It will be an exciting ride to see who will win the right to launch what would be the biggest entertainment project in Saudi yet.

British going gaga over Giga Qiddiya

Architects Journal said WilkinsonEyre, Mangera Yvars Architects, Steve Chilton Architects, HOK, Populous and the London office of BIG – the original master planners – are among 21 firms participating in a series of ‘design explorations’ for projects on the 3,400ha Qiddiya site around 45km from the capital of Saudi Arabia.

International firms also participating in the 12 calls for concepts include BIG, Buro Ole Scheeren, MAD, Snøhetta, Arquitectonica, Morphosis, Coop Himmelb(l)au, 5+, CTRKL, Rockwell Group, Asymptote, Rosetti Architects, 10 Design and local firms Dar Al Omran and X Architects.

Read more: Mega development projects such as NEOM and Al Qiddiya to create finance opportunities

The bids center around building a performing arts centre; a stadium; an arena; a resort parking area; a speed park stadium and hotel; a shopping, dining and entertainment area; an arts complex; an ice arena and festival ground; atrium space; an aquatic centre, Qiddiya bridge and a grand mosque.

Andreas Pedersens, partner and design director at BIG’s London office said the project was designed around a compact walkable city core featuring narrow shaded streets and a ‘modern vernacular type of urbanism and architecture much more adapted to the climate the heat of the sun we would have in the Middle East.’

Image courtesy of Architects JournalQiddiya visitor and revenue expectations

Qiddiya expects to receive around 1.5 million visitors annually when its first phase opens in 2022 and aims to capture the estimated $30 million spent every year by locals on entertainment abroad.

Qiddiya covers 334 square kilometres outside of Riyadh and has a Six Flags Entertainment Corp theme park, private race track and an off-road zone.

 “The project will be built on a combination of our capital that is deployed alongside investment capital from many other sources,” Michael Reininger, chief executive officer of Qiddiya Investment Co, told reporters in Riyadh on Wednesday.

According to Arabian Business, by 2030, Qiddiya hopes to draw 17 million visitors annually and build new sectors that will contribute up to 17 billion riyals ($4.5 billion) to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product.

Read more: Saudi Qiddiya is more than just a six flags project: It’s a major theme park

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated or JLL, a commercial real estate services firm, the second-largest company of its kind in the world, said continued government spending on giga-projects, coupled with growing developments in the entertainment sector, is likely to stimulate demand in the real estate market in Saudi Arabia, as it looks to reduce its reliance on oil, quoting its 2019 mid-year review report.

The hospitality and entertainment industries witnessed a number of major development announcements.

These included the revealing of Al Qiddiya’s master plan in Riyadh, aiming to cement the city’s position as the ‘Capital of Entertainment, Sports, and the Arts’, as well as the launch of the Kingdom’s first arthouse ‘Cinema El Housh’ in Jeddah, apart from religious tourism.

“These projects are expected to generate large opportunities for job creation and private sector participation in the economy, particularly in the hospitality sector, while also enhancing the quality of life of the local population. Looking ahead, this is expected to reflect positively on the number of tourists arriving in the Kingdom, in turn, boosting hotel performance levels,” Dana Salbak, Associate, JLL MENA.