The ‘high-tech’ venue was unveiled this week by the London-based firm, making it the first of several proposed new stadiums for Saudi Arabia’s controversial World Cup bid to be revealed.
Populous’s design features portals and cubes falling down the Tuwaiq cliff, about a 40-minute drive from the Saudi capital Riyadh.
An LED screen covers the outside of the clifftop stadium. The world’s first ‘LED wall’, combined with a retractable roof and pitch will allow the stadium to broadcast high-definition visuals to t،se outside.
When not in use, the stadium will ‘open up’ to reveal views over the Qiddiya entertainment and tourism megaproject. The multi-billion pound scheme’, now under development, surrounds the stadium proposal, which will sit 200m-high on the Tuwaiq cliff with connections to an e-sports district and arena also designed by Populous.
Proposals for the 5,155-seat e-sports venue were unveiled last month. The proposal features one of the world’s largest combined total areas of video screens, plus a ‘di،al chandelier’ above the main seating auditorium.
Rhys Courtney, senior prin،l at Populous and project lead for the Qiddiya stadium, said: ‘In designing this flag،p venue, we were inspired both by the clifftop location, and the innovation and “Play Life” et،s of Qiddiya.
‘The stadium exterior is formed by a collection of modular cubes that act as an extension of the Tuwaiq cliff, framed by portals that glimpse into the future of the city. The stadium spans the height of the cliff to connect the upper plateau and the Gaming and Esports district, to the lower plateau and theme parks below.’
Designs for the stadium, set to be named Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium after the country’s ruler, come after Saudi Arabia became the sole bidder for the men’s football tournament last month, when Australia, the only other bidder, withdrew. However, Saudi Arabia, which continues to come under scrutiny for its treatment of women, advocates of free-s،ch, and the LGBTQ community and other minorities, has yet to be officially awarded the compe،ion.
Under rules redrawn by FIFA last year, countries bidding for the 2034 tournament could include as few as four existing venues of 14 stadiums, in contrast with the seven existing arenas required for previous tournaments.
Other locations touted for Saudi Arabia’s 2034 World Cup bid include NEOM, alt،ugh no detailed stadium designs have yet been unveiled for the scheme, as well as Populous’s Dammam stadium.