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Qiddiya stadium to offer ‘new generation of digitally-enabled innovation’

Images: Populous

Populous has said the new Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium being developed as part of the Qiddiya project in Saudi Arabia represents a “quantum leap” in stadium design.

The Board of Directors of Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) on Monday revealed the vision for the multi-use venue, with Populous, which is designing the stadium, now granting further insight into how it will appear.

Located in Qiddiya City, atop the 200m-high Tuwaiq cliff and 40 minutes from Riyadh, the venue aims to revolutionise the traditional stadium experience with its immersive design and unique technological features.

The 45,000-seat stadium is fully compliant with FIFA requirements for club and international football. Once open, it will serve as the home ground of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. QIC reached an agreement for the Riyadh-based Pro League clubs to play at the proposed stadium back in February 2022.

It is one of the proposed venues for Saudi Arabia’s 2034 FIFA World Cup bid, while QIC has said the stadium could also be used during Riyadh’s staging of the 2034 Asian Games. Saudi Arabia will also host football’s Asian Cup in 2027 and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium has been included as one of the proposed venues for the tournament.

The stadium is set to be the world’s first fully integrated venue with a combined retractable roof, pitch and LED wall – an architectural innovation that is intended to offer unparalleled versatility, allowing the space to transform into different event modes in a matter of hours.

The LED wall will be a portal to live event broadcasts, high-definition films and laser shows. When not activated, it will open to reveal views of Qiddiya City.

Qiddiya’s first offering will be Qiddiya City. With 60,000 buildings in an overall area of 360 square kilometres, it will eventually host over 600,000 residents. Qiddiya City will include Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium, a gaming and esports district, a speed park track, golf courses, a water theme park, and Six Flags Qiddiya.

The stadium will employ cutting-edge technology to provide fans with instant access to live data and information including the use of state-of-the-art technology such as HoloBox, enabling virtual interactions with celebrities and stars.

The stadium 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 facility. The lake will use rainwater capture from the stadium and the surrounding area to pre-cool the air conditioning system.

Chris Lee, managing director of Populous, EMEA, said: “The Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium represents a quantum leap in stadium design and a new generation of digitally-enabled innovation.

“The level of embedded technology will enable both incredible gaming and entertainment experiences and a new way for fans to watch and enjoy football itself.”

Qiddiya, one of Saudi Arabia’s ‘giga-projects’ under its Vision 2030 masterplan, last month teamed up with Populous to unveil plans for what it claims will be a pioneering new gaming and esports district.

Qiddiya City will be home to the world’s first mixed-use gaming and esports district which aims to attract gamers from across the globe and cement Saudi Arabia as the “global epicentre” of this sector.

The ambitious gaming and esports attraction will boast four dedicated esports venues and aim to host a year-round calendar of some of the biggest esports events with a combined peak tournament seating capacity of 73,000 across the destination.

QIC said that one of the new venues, Qiddiya City Esports Arena, will boast the largest indoor LED screen in any esports arena and feature 5,155 seats – making it one of the three largest esports venues in the world.

Rhys Courtney, senior principal at Populous and project lead for the stadium, added: “In designing this flagship venue, we were inspired both by the clifftop location, and the innovation and ‘Play Life’ ethos of Qiddiya.

“The stadium exterior is formed by a collection of modular cubes that act as an extension of the Tuwaiq cliff, framed by portals that glimpse into the future of the city. The stadium spans the height of the cliff to connect the upper plateau and the gaming and esports district, to the lower plateau and theme parks below.

“The cubes and portals spill down the cliff to create a massive digital canvas that interacts with users at different scales, from street-level vistas to the three-sided seating bowl experience, to citywide views – transcending the stadium typology.

“The central stadium is encircled by towers creating a 365-day mixed use sports and entertainment precinct forming hierarchies of space and activation. A covered, mixed-reality street runs between the stadium and surrounding towers to circulate fans and the public towards the phenomenal cliff-edge views over Qiddiya.”