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The Arena in Diriyah: Transforming Saudi into a world-class entertainment hub

The Arena in Diriyah, a groundbreaking 20,000-seat venue blending tradition with innovation to host premier sports, entertainment, and cultural events

The Arena in Diriyah: Transforming Saudi into a world-class entertainment hub

Diriyah Company, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund responsible for turning the historic Saudi city into a tourism giga-project has unveiled an innovative concept design for The Arena in Diriyah at the global real estate exhibition MIPIM in Cannes.

The revolutionary 20,000-seat multipurpose venue, designed by HKS, is located on the outskirts of Riyadh within The City of Earth. Inspired by natural geology and traditional Najdi architecture, the design encapsulates centuries of heritage while incorporating state-of-the-art technology for flexibility, exceptional acoustics, and optimal viewing experiences. The Arena aims to be the premier venue in the Middle East for sports, entertainment, and cultural events.

The venue in Diriyah is a key component of the ambitious $63.2 billion masterplan for the area, with the aim of promoting cultural and economic development in Saudi Arabia. It is designed to be a significant tourism and cultural attraction, attracting visitors from around the world and enhancing the events scene in the region.

On the new project, Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo, says, “The Arena symbolises the fusion of tradition with innovation and is crucial to establishing Diriyah as a world-class destination deeply rooted in Saudi heritage.”

“The Arena’s versatile design will enable it to host a wide array of events in quick succession, enhancing the entertainment offerings of the region,” he added

Adjacent to The Arena will be a lively shopping and dining district, as well as the Plaza, an outdoor space designed for live performances and community engagement.

This development is in line with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to boost the entertainment sector and stimulate economic growth through tourism, he added.

HKS Architects’ lead architect Alex Thomas expressed pride in the project, noting that the architecture evokes local geological formations and ancient Najdi forts.

“The Arena’s design includes ‘digital waterfalls’ that light up the structure, serving as a beacon and inviting guests to the dynamic experiences within,” explains Thomas.

“The Arena in Diriyah is positioned to be a landmark in the unprecedented masterplan of Diriyah, championing a lifestyle that marries heritage with innovation and plays a significant role in enhancing Saudi Arabia’s position as a hub for world-class events and cultural tourism,” he concluded.

Diriyah, the birthplace of the kingdom and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, is undergoing a transformation to become a mixed-use destination spanning 14 square kilometres by 2030. The site, which dates back to 1446, was the establishment of the First Saudi State in 1727 and is the ancestral home of the Al Saud royal family.

The development is expected to include 42 hotels, more than 100 restaurants, nine museums, and about 30,000 homes, creating 178,000 direct jobs and contributing $18.67 billion (70 billion riyals) to the national GDP. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy aims to diversify the economy away from oil by increasing the contribution of the tourism sector to 10 per cent by 2030, up from 3 per cent in 2019.