Saudi Arabia’s mega entertainment project Qiddiya reveals master plan

The 334-square-kilometer site envisions development covering only 30 percent of the land, leaving the majority of the site dedicated to conservation. (Supplied photo)
Updated 26 June 2019

Saudi Arabia’s mega entertainment project Qiddiya reveals master plan

  • Will ‘unlock access to experiences in new, culturally relevant way’

RIYADH: The Qiddiya Investment Co. (QIC) has unveiled the much-anticipated master plan for Qiddiya, the entertainment city being constructed on the doorstep of Riyadh.

The announcement on Wednesday comes after an extensive design process, and revealed a meticulous plan that complements the epic natural landscape of the region, and creates a vast pedestrian-oriented district.

“The people of Saudi Arabia share the universal desire for enriching experiences, and our plan allows Qiddiya to unlock access to these experiences in a new and culturally relevant way, encouraging personal and professional pursuits that foster enrichment,” said Michael Reininger, CEO of QIC.

The master plan for the project, created in conjunction with Bjarke Ingles Group, a Denmark-based company, was constructed with careful consideration to the natural patterns that have been etched on the site throughout history, giving rise to a green belt network carrying visitors throughout the property on roads, bike paths and walkways built within an enhanced landscape environment.

“This project sets a new global standard for the seamless integration of visitor-focused experiences and an innovative mix of program pieces, delivering an unparalleled entertainment destination,” said Bob Ward, chairman of the Qiddiya advisory board.

The site is organized around five primary development nodes, each with a unique purpose.

Resort Core

The “Resort Core” represents the heart of Qiddiya, where four gated-attractions surround a central specialty retail, dining and entertainment district along with a portfolio of distinctive resort hotels.

Adjacent to this district is a major outdoor entertainment venue, capable of hosting events of 5,000 to 40,000 visitors in a park-like setting, and punctuated with active skating and skiing facilities.

The 2022 opening phase features “Six Flags Qiddiya,” a family-oriented park filled with rides and attractions distributed throughout six themed areas.

A second feature park is a water-oriented sports and entertainment attraction, which includes an integrated resort hotel.

Speed Park

The third feature is the “Speed Park” which brings together events and experiences from the world of motor sports in a venue that places equal emphasis on spectator and driver. The park includes tracks, showrooms, retail areas, a driver’s club and a luxury hotel within its gates.

City Center

The City Center is a mixed-use village dedicated to sports and the arts. It is home to a collection of venues including a 20,000-seat cliff-top stadium, an 18,000-seat multi-purpose indoor arena, an aquatic center and a sports hub capable of hosting a cross section of individual activities and events.

Art and entertainment creates a buzz throughout the city at the innovative arts center, a signature 2,000-seat performing arts theater and a premier multiplex cinema that dot the central walkways as primary destinations.

A private school, a sports medicine hospital, and beautiful private villas along a path on the Cliff’s Edge area complete the composition.

Eco Core

To the northwest of the “Resort Core” sits the “Eco Core,” designed around a series of nature and wildlife encounters, an ecologically sensitive golf course, outdoor sporting adventures and several unique hospitality offerings that take advantage of the picturesque desert environment.

A residential neighborhood sits near the center, where panoramic vistas of the project are available from an array of residential and resort offerings that include a championship 18-hole golf course and club house facilities, a luxurious resort hotel, spa and equestrian facilities.


Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

Updated 23 September 2020

Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

  • The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is marking Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day with exhibitions, a scavenger hunt, a fine dining pop-up, and artistic performances.

The center started its National Day celebrations on Sept. 21 and the activities run through to Sept. 26. 

Rania Biltagi, the head of communication and partnerships at Ithra, said she hoped that people this year would ask themselves what being Saudi meant to them.

“I am proud to be part of an organization created as a creative and cultural destination perfectly positioned to drive and participate in conversations such as these,” she told Arab News. “Our mandate involves igniting cultural curiosity, exploring knowledge and inspiring creativity, and it’s a task we don’t take lightly.”

“Saudi at heart, multicultural by nature” had been the Ithra motto from the start, she said, and the center was always looking inward even as it looked outward.

Biltagi shared the results of research that Ithra had conducted about the impact of globalization on Saudi Arabia’s culture.

“The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization. However, it also shows that Saudis are willing and able to embrace modernity and globalization while still cherishing their unique national identity.”

Ithra has created the “Kingdom of Cultures” exhibition, which will take visitors on an interactive and state-of-the-art journey through Saudi Arabia’s lands and tell stories about the Saudi people. It will also feature crafts, dialects and customs.

Writer and Saudi heritage expert Ali Ibrahim Moghawi said he was honored to be participating in the festival as part of the “Flower Men” booth.

“To be representing our great nation at the very place where oil was first discovered, a place that represents the heart of progress in Saudi Arabia, the place that has done the most to respect our heritage and support every Saudi generation future, past, and present, is an honor,” he told Arab News.

Ithra has scheduled musical performances from Saudi band Al-Farabi, which will also feature the pianist Abeer Balubaid and singer Ameen Farsi. Award-winning poet Abdulatif Almubarak will host an evening of poetry – “Aswat” – accompanied by musicians in a celebration of Saudi civilization.

The center has devised a pop-up restaurant called Takya, which will offer guests a fine dining experience with Saudi fusion cuisine and modern takes on old favorites.

It has also announced plans to revamp and renovate an old farmer’s market in Alkhobar’s Al-Ulaya district to give it an energetic and artsy edge. The covered space is being redecorated and will feature areas for art and music, in addition to a dedicated and upgraded space where local farmers can sell their produce.

Ithra plans to curate installations at the market to make it more visually appealing as well as to take art and creativity directly to the community.

It has scheduled two celebration sessions a day with limited space and occupancy. The first runs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. while the second is from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.

Tickets to the events, as well as the special performances, are available on Ithra’s website.