Saudi mega projects under the spotlight



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Saudi stadiums and mega projects Image: NEOM, Adrien Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), Coliseum GSVA, Saudi2027 (X), & Saudi Projects

Saudi Arabia is pumping billions into a series of mega architectural projects as the Gulf State looks to move away from its reliance on oil money and become a global magnet for tourism.

Among the mind-boggling mega projects on the boards are a 100-mile long shimmering city and a ski resort in the desert.

Luxury retreats amidst the splendour of ancient archaeological heritage sites, futuristic cities and giant cultural and entertainment centers are all set to be built as Saudi’s ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks to build for the future.

The country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is tasked with delivering all of these massive projects with state money.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: NEOM

And a team of internationally renowned architects including Zaha Hadid, Foster + Partners
And Kengo Kuma and Associates have all been hired to work on various aspects of the transformation.

Sport has been targeted by Saudi as a key part of this transformation and sports infrastructure is set for major redevelopment ahead of the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and the 2034 World Cup.

In June 2023, Saudi Arabia’s Sports Ministry invited construction companies to submit prequalification documents for contracts to build sports stadiums as part of its SR10.1bn capital projects program.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Adrien Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

The projects are split into four principal elements. The largest of these, and the most immediate, is the construction of a new stadium to the North of Riyadh and the upgrade of the five existing football stadiums. The projects are:

  • Increasing the capacity of the 67,000-capacity King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh to 92,000 seats
  • Expanding the seating capacity of Riyadh’s 22,500-capacity Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium to 45,000
  • Increasing the capacity of the 26,000-capacity Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam to 30,000 seats
  • An increase in the seating capacity of the 11,000-capacity Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium in Khobar to 45,000
  • The construction of a new, sustainable Qiddiya Stadium in the North of Riyadh with 45,000 seats.

 
Other projects include the construction of the 27,000 seat Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, as well as the Jeddah Central Development Stadium.

Saudi Arabia is also 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.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN)

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

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

Riyadh Expo 2030

Aside from sport, Saudi will also be hosting the World Expo in 2030 under the banner: Riyadh Expo 2030 I The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Coliseum GSVA

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is the roadmap for a journey focused on nurturing a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. Riyadh Expo 2030 will be a perfect occasion for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to share the story of an unprecedented national transformation with other nations and the global public.

Located in the north of Riyadh, the Expo is expected to attract 40 million visitors.

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.
 

Mega projects in focus

Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans to build a series of large-scale projects aimed at reshaping the country and diversifying the nation’s economy beyond oil.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Coliseum GSVA

These giant schemes are aimed at generating employment opportunities, enhancing the nation’s reputation as a top destination for trade and tourism. They include:
 

The Line

The Line is a vertical city that will eventually house around 9 million residents. Stretching over 170 kilometres but only 200 metres wide, The Line is envisioned as a carbon-neutral vertical city that would avoid the use of cars through its walkable, dense design. It would contain all necessities of city living including homes, schools, workspaces and parks directly accessible by foot, public transport or through a high-speed rail network.
 

Trojena

Ideally located for alpine and adventure sports, Trojena experiences sub-zero winter temperatures and has a year-round moderate climate that is cooler on average than the rest of the region. Trojena, which is due for completion in 2026, is located in NEOM in the kingdom’s northwest. It covers 60 square kilometres with elevations ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 metres above sea level. It will have skiing and other winter sports facilities to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games. In addition to hosting the Games, Trojena will include residential areas for up to 7,000 people as well as hotels, restaurants and other amenities.
 

Oxagon

NEOM is also developing the floating port city of Oxagon in the Red Sea near the Suez Canal. Oxagon has a unique oxagon shape and will primarily consist of factories, manufacturing facilities, and logistics sites to serve as a major new logistics and industrial centre. It will focus on sectors like renewable energy, food production, and digital technologies.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Saudi2027 (X)

 

Epicon

Located on the Gulf of Aqaba, Epicon aims to set a new standard of hospitality and architecture. Rising from NEOM’s desert landscape like a glistening mirage, the property will feature two striking towers, one 225 meters tall and one reaching 275 meters. The towers will be home to an ultra-premium 41 key hotel and luxury residences that comprise of 14 suites and apartments. A short distance from the hotel is the Epicon resort, which blends tranquility with indulgence and features 120 rooms and 45 stunning residential beach villas.
 

Sindalah

Sindalah will be the first physical showcase of NEOM. An incomparable island destination, it will be an exclusive gateway to the stunning Red Sea. Situated off NEOM’s coast, Sindalah will cover over 840,000 square metres and consists of a group of islands. It will feature three luxury resorts, a yacht club, over 50 luxury brands, and 86 piers. The island is expected to create 3,500 jobs in tourism and hospitality.
 

Utamo

NEOM recently unveiled Utamo, a new immersive destination for art and entertainment located along the Gulf of Aqaba coastline in northwest Saudi Arabia. It will serve as a one-of-a-kind venue hosting music, art and cultural events through advanced audio-visual systems that promise to deliver sensory experiences.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Saudi2027 (X)

 

Norlana

Norlana is a new ultra-modern residential community being developed in northwest Saudi Arabia as part of NEOM. Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, Norlana will consist of 711 properties including mansions, apartments and beach villas integrated with the surrounding natural dunes. Norlana boasts a state-of-the-art 120-berth marina that will serve as an international hub for superyachts, with water taxi services available for residents and guests.
 

Siranna

Siranna is a new exclusive tourism destination located along the Gulf of Aqaba coastline in northwest Saudi Arabia. This ultra-luxurious destination will be home to a 65-key hotel, as well as 35 exclusive residences. The destination offers uninterrupted views of the Red Sea, with its tiered design offering diverse views and perspectives. Emerging from the rugged coastal terrain, the hexagonal pillars are distinctive, yet complementary to the surrounding mountains and flora.
 

Leyja

Leyja is a new tourism destination being developed in NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s mega-project located in the country’s northwest corner. Leyja will be centred around a natural valley surrounded by 400 metre high mountains, located along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. Leyja builds on NEOM’s ongoing commitment to becoming a multi-faceted destination and supports the Kingdom’s efforts to build a strong and sustainable tourism industry under Saudi Vision 2030. Aligned with NEOM’s strategy to designate the majority of its land across its destinations and cities as a nature reserve, 95% of Leyja will be preserved for nature and will combine innovative, ecological design and construction techniques to ensure the development seamlessly blends into the landscape.

Saudi stadiums and mega projectsImage: Saudi Projects

 

New Murabba

New Murabba is a downtown district near Riyadh, with completion targeted for 2030. Spread over 19 square kilometres, it will include over 25 million square metres of built space to accommodate hundreds of thousands of residents. At the centre of New Murabba will be The Mukaab, one of the world’s largest structures shape like a 400-metre cube. It will serve as an immersive cultural destination brought to life with digital technology. The iconic building, featuring a tower atop a spiral base and a structure comprising 2 million sq. m of floor space, will be a premium hospitality destination with a multitude of retail, cultural and tourist attractions, along with residential and hotel units, commercial spaces, and recreational facilities.
 

Jeddah Tower

Jeddah Tower is a skyscraper construction project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is planned to be the first 1 km (3,281 ft) tall building and would be the world’s tallest building or structure upon completion, standing 180 m (591 ft) taller than the Burj Khalifa. Located in the north side of Jeddah, it is the centerpiece of the Jeddah Economic City project.
 

Desert Rock resort

Desert Rock resort is located in a hidden valley nestled between the mountains of one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the kingdom. The resort has 60 guest rooms that have been carefully integrated into the mountainside to preserve its natural silhouette.
 

SEVEN Abha

With an investment of over SAR1.3 billion, the 64,000 square metre development will feature a diverse array of attractions for families and people of all ages across 79,000 square metres of indoor space.
 

SEVEN Yanbu

Saudi Entertainment Ventures is investing more than $13bn in leisure attractions in the Kingdom Located along the seafront promenade on Al Nawras Island, the destination will feature carnival rides, a 10-screen cinema, bowling alley, indoor golf, and a climbing facility.
 

SEVEN Tabuk

Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) has announced the construction of a new entertainment destination in Tabuk, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The development will feature attractions like a 4,000 square metre family entertainment center, junior entertainment center, and Discovery Adventures center developed with Warner Bros. Discovery. It will also include facilities like an e-karting track, indoor adventure golf course, futuristic bowling alley, and 10-screen cinema.
 

AlUla

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla is an ancient heritage site with over 200,000 years of history. It contains important cultural sites, sandstone mountains and oases. AlUla will feature new museums, cultural centres, and eco-tourism resorts carved into the sandstone mountains.
 

Amaala

Amaala is a major luxury tourism development project located in northwest Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea. Spanning 3,800 square kilometres, it will offer a variety of high-end resorts, residences, retail, dining, and entertainment options centered around wellness, culture, and sports. Some key aspects will include 14 top hotel brands, over 800 villas and homes, 200 fashion boutiques, an arts academy, and world-class marinas. A unique “mirage-inspired” airport is also being built to serve the development.
 

Red Sea Project

The Red Sea Project is an ambitious 30,000 square kilometre sustainable tourism development located between Umluj and Al Wajh in Saudi Arabia. Spanning pristine islands, desert landscapes, mountains and archaeological sites along 200 kilometres of untouched Red Sea coastline, the project will feature 8,000 luxury hotel rooms once completed by 2030.
 

Diriyah

Diriyah is the home of the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, a beautifully preserved mud-brick city that was the birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the original home of House Al Saud. This $62.2bn development, a giga-project under the Public Investment Fund, offers a unique opportunity to visit, live, work, shop, dine, and celebrate the wonder of the birthplace of the Kingdom’s rich heritage and culture. Designed to be a sustainable landmark, Diriyah is delivering initiatives focused on water conservation, energy efficiency, wellness, culture and heritage preservation, and climate change resilience. This new city is 100% walkable, promoting a healthy population.
 

King Salman Energy Park

The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) will provide tenants and investors unparalleled access to regional and global energy markets. SPARK hopes to attract energy companies to expand their operations and take advantage of the efficiencies offered by the integrated ecosystem. Located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, a region renowned for its oil and gas resources and for its high demand for energy goods and services, SPARK stands at the epicenter of the global energy market. With a strategic base in SPARK, energy sector players will enjoy unparalleled access to growth opportunities, supply chain efficiencies, and world-class support services.
 

King Salman Park

King Salman Park in Riyadh will offer a variety of cultural, recreational, and sports activities for both residents and visitors. It will feature open green spaces like gardens as well as cultural attractions like museums and theaters housed in the 400,000 square metre Royal Arts Complex. Spanning 90,000m², the unique public space will include a plant nursery, a multi-use hall, meeting rooms, exhibition areas, restaurants, and cafes. Suitable for events, entertainment shows and business meetings, the main auditorium will seat up to 230 guests with VIP and tiered seating. The Pavilion will also house interactive garden exhibits that introduce the park’s natural, cultural, and recreational elements as well as a generous terrace designed to command 360-degree views overlooking the lush, green landscape.
 

Qiddiya

Qiddiya is a huge new entertainment city being built near Riyadh. It is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program, which aims to diversify the Saudi economy. Qiddiya will feature theme parks, sports facilities, arts venues, and attractions focused on sports, nature, mobility, and culture. It aims to create jobs, empower the local population, especially youth and women, and attract both domestic and international visitors.
 

Riyadh Sports Boulevard

Stretching 135 kilometres through the city, The Sports Boulevard project in Riyadh aims to promote healthy living through sports and exercise. It will connect Hanifah valley in the west to Al Salai Valley in the east. The boulevard provides over 4 million square metres of open green space, including a 20 square kilometre desert park with event venues, outdoor museums, and movie theatres. It is divided into seven zones catering to different activities like cycling, arts and culture, environmental sustainability, and more.
 

Riyadh Metro

The Riyadh Metro is a rapid transit system under construction in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. It is part of the King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport and will consist of six metro lines spanning a total length of 176 kilometres (109 mi), with 85 stations. The project will cost $22.5 billion to build. It is expected to open to passengers in 2024.

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