Populous reveals plans for an eSports center in Saudi Arabia


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  • Populous reveals groundbreaking esports arena in Saudi’s Qiddiya project, promising an immersive experience.
  • The esports venue, part of Vision 2030, integrates cutting-edge tech and sensory seating for a unique user experience.
  • Qiddiya’s multi-billion giga-project includes collaborations with renowned international firms, reinforcing Saudi’s commitment to diversify.

The newly unveiled venue, featuring a 5,155-seat capacity, positions itself as a groundbreaking addition to the world of esports. With one of the largest combined areas of video screens globally, it boasts a distinctive ‘digital chandelier’ suspended above the main seating auditorium. The design focuses on creating a fully immersive and ever-changing experience for visitors through haptic (sensory) seating, world-class audio-visual capabilities, and carefully engineered sightlines.

Innovative features for an unmatched user experience

Populous aims to redefine the eSports experience by incorporating two concourses around the main auditorium. These areas will house breakout zones for gaming, a food court, and various retail outlets. The addition of an ‘immersive entertainment zone’ further elevates the arena’s status, featuring self-checkout markets and gaming bars, positioning it as the world’s first esports district.

Rhys Courtney, senior principal at Populous, expressed pride in combining the firm’s extensive knowledge of esports facilities and technology with Qiddiya’s vision. The result is anticipated to be a world-leading arena that caters to both competitors and fans, standing out in terms of both scale and user experience.

Collaborative design efforts for Qiddiya’s vision

The unveiling of this esports arena is part of the broader Qiddiya giga-project, a multi-billion-pound venture near Riyadh. Populous is one of several British and international firms chosen to design elements of Qiddiya, joining the ranks of renowned names such as WilkinsonEyre, Mangera Yvars Architects, HOK, and the London office of BIG.

In 2019, around 21 firms were invited to contribute their expertise to various facets of the Qiddiya project, including a performing arts center, stadium, resort parking area, speed park stadium and hotel, shopping and entertainment zones, arts complex, ice arena, and more. This collaborative effort aligns with Saudi Arabia’s development initiative, Vision 2030, reflecting the country’s commitment to advancing diverse sectors.

Vision 2030: Transforming Saudi Arabia’s landscape

Qiddiya is an integral part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan aimed at diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its dependency on oil. Alongside the esports arena, other notable developments under Vision 2030 include the Atkins-designed 400-meter cube-shaped skyscraper known as the Mukaab and the NEOM development, which proposes a 170-kilometer-long linear city called The Line.

These projects signify Saudi Arabia’s determination to position itself as a global player in various sectors, embracing innovation and attracting international collaborations to contribute to its ambitious goals. The esports arena, with its unique design and technological prowess, exemplifies the nation’s commitment to creating cutting-edge entertainment experiences.

The unveiling of the esports arena in the Qiddiya entertainment project marks a significant milestone in the realization of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Populous, along with other esteemed design firms, is playing a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Riyadh, introducing world-class facilities and entertainment options that are set to captivate both local and global audiences. As these projects continue to evolve, they underscore Saudi Arabia’s emergence as a key player in the international arena of innovation and development.

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Derrick Clinton

Derrick is a freelance writer with an interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. He works mostly on crypto projects' problems and solutions, offering a market outlook for investments. He applies his analytical talents to theses.

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