Dubai: Two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest football clubs - Riyadh's Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal – have netted SR100 million a year deals from the Kingdom’s ‘giga-project’ Qiddiya Investment Company. The deals will run all the way up to 2042, but subject to a strategic review every five years.
This could “open new horizons in sports investment in Asia, specifically the Middle East, further establishing Qiddiya as the future capital of Entertainment, sports and culture”. Qiddiya is located southwest of Riyadh on a site that spans 367 square kilometres.
The Qiddiya Investment Company was set up with the specific purpose of creating a destination that weaves in sports, entertainment and cultural extravaganzas. It is part of the Kingdom’s roadmap to give a complete makeover to its tourism and destination marketing ambitions. In this regard, Qiddiya has a “dual economic and social purpose: to advance economic diversification and unlock new professional pathways while enriching lives of the youth in the Kingdom”.
Meanwhile, the Saudi wealth fund PIF-owned Central Jeddah Development Company also signed deals with football clubs Al Ittihad and Al Ahly, for the same period and same amount.
In 2021, Qiddiya announced plans that include the Jack Nicklaus championship golf course and theme park based Six Flags Qiddiya’s signature attraction, The Falcon’s Flight. From a construction perspective, Qiddiya progressed from planning to construction phase as mass grading and site preparation began. Contracts worth more than SR2 billion were awarded to Saudi companies.
* Parks and attractions;
* Sports and wellness;
* Arts and culture;
* Motion and mobility; and
* Nature and environment, along with real estate options.
The Stadium - set on a cliff top - will be a key attraction of the sports and wellness plans.
Scoring with football
The 20-year strategic partnership with Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal is the "largest in the history of both clubs and one of the largest in the region". Qiddiya’s planned cliff-top 40,000-plus-seat stadium, once complete, will become the venue for home games of both Riyadh-based teams. A full range of new sporting facilities will be available for both clubs.
This is “another important step towards our aim of building and developing Qiddiya as a formidable sports hub that is the home of local, regional and international competitions,” said Abdullah bin Nasser Aldawood, Qiddiya’s Managing Director. “There will be numerous benefits for the club including the use of our state-of-the-art facilities to train and become world champions across a wide range of sports in addition to football.”
The clubs’ fans will gain an entirely new experience as they will have access to the entertainment and sports facilities and venues around the Stadium. They will be inspired to pursue their own sporting dreams which will ultimately boost the sports industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP