New Saudi Gov’t Back Giga Project Involves E-Sports Arena With Massive 3,600 Sq. Meter Chandelier-Like LED Screen

December 21, 2023 by Dave Haynes

Given the extraordinary cost and the need in much of the world to clear planning hurdles and local objects about light pollution and energy usage, it’s widely thought the next variation on the Las Vegas Sphere might rise up in a money-is-no-object place like Dubai or Saudi Arabia.

And now there is word of a giant entertainment building with a vast screen footprint, but it’s not a sphere and most of the LED is inside.

Populous, the global design firm that put together the Sphere now lighting up Vegas, has been commissioned to design a giant e-sports venue in the outer suburbs of Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. It is one of that oil-rich kingdom’s so-called giga projects.

The gaming theatre will have more than 5,100 seats for gaming-mad fans to watch the action on an LED screen system that will measure 3,600 sq. meters – which for those who don’t know metric is roughly “a whole lot” of pixels.

Like Sphere, the Qiddiya City Esports Arena is multi-sensory, with 4D haptic seats that shift and shudder, as well as scents. The screens will equate to a digital chandelier positioned above the seating area for the gamers.

Says Populous of the project:

The design philosophy for the arena is centred on creating a fantasy world for fans. The general admission experience is carefully crafted, with two concourses wrapping around the seating bowl, offering unique designs and functions. These include a centralised arcade with breakout zones for gaming, a food ‘souk’, retail and an immersive entertainment zone. This design ambition extends to the food and beverage offering, providing variety and choice through diverse typologies such as self-checkout markets and gaming bars. Many of these spaces can be operated prior to an event or fully on non-event days, with access from the podium, which increases the operation of the venue and its integration into the community. 

Right now, these are just plans. In much of the world, that means it maybe might someday actually go up. In Saudi, it’s much more likely to really happen. This 106-mile long city is, after all, under early construction.

The project is part of broader efforts by the Saudis to diversify beyond energy, attract tourism and keep young people happy.

A key focus for the National Gaming and Esports Strategy is the Qiddiya Gaming and Esports District, the world’s first mixed-use gaming and esports district, set to attract gamers from across the globe and cement Saudi Arabia as the global epicentre of gaming and esports.

One of Saudi Arabia’s new giga-projects, Qiddiya, promises a city wholly dedicated to play, an epicentre of entertainment, sports and culture that will welcome Saudi nationals, residents and tourists alike, exemplified by its promise of “Play Life”.

Googling the city reveals it is mostly just sand right now.

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