Saudi Arabia major sports facilities program


Saudi Arabia and its stadium ambitions Image: Coliseum GSVA

Saudi Arabia’s Sport Ministry has said it is undertaking a SR10.1bn ($2.7bn) program to build new sporting facilities and upgrade existing ones over the coming five years.

‘Ministry of Sports Saudi Arabia’ stated that the projects will be a component of the joint bid that Saudi Arabia is making to host the FIFA 2030 World Cup™ alongside Egypt and Greece.

The 2030 FIFA World Cup™ will be the 24th FIFA World Cup™, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member-associations of FIFA. This event will mark the end of the first century of World Cup competition.

The Ministry of Sport, formerly the General Sports Authority, is a Government Ministry responsible for sports in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Sport was previously known as the General Sports Authority and before that as the General Presidency of Youth Welfare, which was created in 1974.

Earlier, in June 2021, Saudi Arabia is preparing a bid to stage the FIFA 2030 World Cup™. The entire initiative is being seen as a move to win a seat at the global football table.

The Egypt-Greece-Saudi Arabia 2030 FIFA World Cup™ bid is a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup™ by Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is expected to lead the effort.

‘Ministry of Sports Saudi Arabia’ further stated that speaking at the Future Projects Forum in Riyadh recently, the Ministry said its capital projects program would be split into four principal elements.

The largest of these, and the most immediate, is the scheme to upgrade and increase the capacity of five existing football stadiums in advance of the AFC Asian Cup, which the Kingdom will host in 2027.

The AFC Asian Cup is the primary association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), determining the continental champion of Asia. It is the second oldest continental football championship in the world after Copa América (the top men’s football tournament contested among national teams from South America).

Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football, beach football and futsal in some countries/territories in Asia and Oceania. It has 47 member-countries most of which are located in Asia. Australia, formerly in Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), joined AFC in 2006.

The 2027 AFC Asian Cup will be the 19th edition of the AFC Asian Cup, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Asia organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The tournament involves 24 national teams after the expansion in 2019. It will be held in Saudi Arabia.

The projects are:

  • Increasing the capacity of the 68,752-capacity King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh to 92,000 seats;
  • Expanding the seating capacity of Riyadh’s 22,188-capacity Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium to 45,000;
  • Increasing the 26,000-capacity Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam to 30,000 seats;
  • An increase in seating capacity for the 15,000-capacity Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium in Dammam to 45,000; and
  • The construction of a new, sustainable New Riyadh Stadium to the North of Riyadh with 45,000 seats.

All five stadium projects are at the design stage, with construction due to start between October this year and February 2024.

The next main element of the Ministry’s projects program is the construction of 30 new training grounds and facilities in proximity to the stadiums that will be used for the 2027 competition.

Construction on the schemes is expected to start in July 2024 and will be completed by December 2025. A total of 18 facilities will be ready in time for the 2026 AFC Women’s Cup.

The 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup will be the 21st edition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the quadrennial international football tournament in Asia competed by the women’s national teams in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). On April 21st, Saudi Arabia submitted its bid in hosting the tournament.

Other components of the program include the building of 50 new model sports clubs in different Cities in the Kingdom, including Al-Kharj, Jizan, Tabuk, Dammam, and Jeddah.

The new clubs will include indoor volleyball, football, handball, and gym facilities as well as outdoor sports grounds. They will cover a plot area of 20,000-35,000 square meters (sq m) and have a minimum built-up area of 1,000 sq m.

Other Stadium Projects

In July 2022, the Jeddah Central Development Company (JCDC) signed design and engineering contracts for the stadium at the Jeddah Central project. The design contract was awarded to GMP International and the engineering contract was awarded to Khatib and Alami.

Saudi Arabia has planned stadium projects before. In 2014, Saudi Aramco was leading the development and construction of 11 stadiums. Those stadium plans, which were canceled in 2015, covered projects in Medina, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Asir, Tabuk, Hail, the Northern Borders, Jizan, Najran, Baha, and Al-Jouf.

A major new stadium opened in the Jeddah area in 2014. The UK-based Arup designed the 60,000-seat stadium at the King Abdullah Sports City. The contractor was a joint venture led by Belgium’s Six Construct, which was awarded an estimated SR2bn ($533m) construction contract in 2011.

Arup is a British multinational professional services firm headquartered in London (UK) that provides design, engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory services across every aspect of the built environment.

Six Construct, a subsidiary of the BESIX Group, is the largest Belgian construction company operating in the Middle East.

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