Gaming fun galore in Qiddiya esports zone


Qiddiya launches Esports venues Image: Qiddiya

Qiddiya (Saudi Arabia) has announced the launch of Qiddiya’s first multiuse gaming and esports zone featuring four mega arenas, one of which has a 5,300-seat arena.

Qiddiya City is a massive entertainment project under construction on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Qiddiya City’s Gaming & Esports District in Saudi Arabia will offer an immersive experience for visitors and residents to play, work and live in fantastical themed spaces.

‘Qiddiya’ stated that it will be the global epicenter of gaming and esports featuring multiple innovative esports arenas one of which will come armed with a 5,300-seat stadium, esports team facilities, boot camps and regional headquarters to some of the world’s largest game companies.

Qiddiya launches Esports venuesImage: Qiddiya

The upcoming 12th edition of Coliseum Summit MENA will take place February 5th, 2024, in Riyadh, Al-Awwal Park Stadium. Representatives of Qiddiya and Populous will be speaking during the event.

Qiddiya is an entertainment City in Saudi Arabia work on which is underway. It will be a destination for sports, entertainment and culture. Qiddiya is expected to attract 48 million visitors per year. Visitors will be able to travel to Qiddiya by road or by Metro. Qiddiya City will include a gaming and e-sports district aimed at becoming a global center for competitions, as well as a speed park, golf courses, a multipurpose stadium, a water theme park, and Six Flags Qiddiya.

‘Qiddiya’ further stated that it will be an entire district dedicated to turning fantasy into reality.

The 5,300-seat stadium planned will be one of the top three largest esports venues in the world.

The Gaming & Esports District will be a place where living the dream means being immersed in a real world of fantasy:

  • Four dedicated gaming arenas with gaming-themed hotels and residential units;
  • Enough space for everyone to play, compete and have fun;
  • 73,000 peak capacity for esports tournaments across all venues;
  • A home away from home for all kinds of gaming clubs and associations;
  • 25 esports clubs that will call the district their permanent home;
  • A place where the best in the business come to play;
  • 30 regional headquarters of more than 30 video game companies;
  • One-of-a-kind screens; and
  • 1 largest indoor LED and that will be the largest in any esports arena.


Immersive Experience

Qiddiya launches Esports venuesImage: Qiddiya

‘Populous’ stated that with a design portfolio that includes some of the most advanced esports facilities in the world, including the 2,500-capacity Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas (US), Fortress Melbourne (Australia) and the NBA 2K League Broadcast Arena in New York (US), Populous is at the forefront of cutting-edge venue design for the ever-expanding live gaming experience.

Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of esports participation and interest. The National Gaming and Esports Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030 aims to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for gaming and esports and attract up to 10 million visitors by 2030. Meanwhile, research conducted by Populous and YouGov in 2022 revealed that as much as 29 percent of the Saudi Arabia national population is interested in esports, demonstrating the substantial appetite for live venues.

Kansas City (US)-based Populous is a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as the planning and design of major special events.

The National Gaming and Esports Strategy is a comprehensive investment to develop the entire gaming and esports value chain. Everyone is invited to play in a strategy that fosters new career and business opportunities and will make Saudi Arabia the center of the game by 2030.

Saudi Vision 2030 is a Government program launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that aims to achieve the goal of increased diversification economically, socially and culturally, in line with the vision of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

Qiddiya launches Esports venuesImage: Qiddiya

‘Populous’ further stated that a key focus for the National Gaming and Esports Strategy is the Qiddiya Gaming and Esports District, the world’s first mixed-use gaming and esports district, set to attract gamers from across the globe and cement Saudi Arabia as the global epicenter of gaming and esports.

One of Saudi Arabia’s new giga projects, Qiddiya, promises a City wholly dedicated to play, an epicenter of entertainment, sports and culture that will welcome Saudi nationals, residents and tourists alike, exemplified by its promise of ‘Play Life’.

Within the Qiddiya Gaming and Esports District, the Populous-designed Qiddiya City Esports Arena stands out. Combining the largest combined total video screen area of any esports arena in the world, as well as 4D haptic seats where visitors can sense, feel and even smell the action taking place in front of them, the striking design creates an iconic venue capable of adapting to multiple experiences and events. Featuring a distinctive architectural identity, the 5,155-seat multifunctional venue will provide a best-in-class experience for the players and spectators alike. Extensive sightline studies have been carried out to optimize seating in the main auditorium for the best views, and parametric design tools have been utilized to refine screen locations, resulting in an innovative “digital chandelier” placed centrally within the seating bowl for enhanced gameplay content delivery.

The combination of screen size and 4D haptic seats, together with specifications for the most advanced audio-visual (AV) systems available, ensures visitors will enjoy a fully immersive and ever-changing experience.

Remarked Rhys Courtney, a Senior Principal at Populous EMEA, “We are proud to have been able to combine our extensive knowledge of esports facilities and technology with Qiddiya’s vision to create a world-leading arena for competitors and fans alike. This arena will be unique in esports in both scale and user experience.”

The design philosophy for the arena is centered on creating a fantasy world for fans. The general admission experience is carefully crafted, with two concourses wrapping around the seating bowl, offering unique designs and functions. These include a centralized arcade with breakout zones for gaming, a food ‘souk’, retail, and an immersive entertainment zone. This design ambition extends to the food and beverage (F&B) offering, providing variety and choice through diverse typologies such as self-checkout markets and gaming bars. Many of these spaces can be operated prior to an event or fully on non-event days, with access from the podium, which increases the operation of the venue and its integration into the community.

Premium hospitality, constituting 20 percent of the arena, introduces six unique concepts, declining standard hospitality conventions in favor of themes aligned with the gaming culture. Meticulous attention is also given to the design of the back-of-house and event production spaces, positioning the venue as the preferred choice for fans, brands, athletes, and promoters.

The final word goes to Shireen Hamdan, Senior Principal and General Manager of Populous KSA, “The Qiddiya City Esport Arena is a state-of-the-art esports venue that will serve as a centerpiece for this incredible global gaming hub and will be a complete representation of Qiddiya’s ‘Play Life’ ethos.”

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