World-first venue combines sliding roof, pitch and LED wall

The new Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium in Qiddiya City, Saudi Arabia has been designed by Populous, the architecture practice behind the Sphere.


The world’s first fully integrated venue with a combined retractable roof, pitch and LED wall is set to be built in Saudi Arabia.

Designed by architecture practice Populuous – which also designed the Sphere in Las Vegas – the architectural innovation will be seen at the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium in Qiddiya City.

The design of the stadium was revealed last week by the board of directors of the Quiddiya Investment Company. Located in Qiddiya City, atop the 200-metre high Tuwaiq cliff and just 40 minutes from Riyadh, the stadium is expected to host some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest sports, entertainment and cultural events and will draw visitors from around the world.

The combined retractable roof, pitch and LED wall will allow the stadium to be transformed into different event modes in a matter of hours. The LED wall will be a portal to live event broadcasts, high-definition films and laser shows and when not activated will open to reveal views of Qiddiya City.

Guests will be able to enjoy a variety of spectacles in a single day, including football, boxing, esports, concerts and theatre performances. The stadium will also provide fans with instant access to live data and information with technology such as a HoloBox which will enable virtual interactions with celebrities and stars.

As a central venue in an urban entertainment district, the stadium has direct and convenient access to Qiddiya City’s vibrant gaming and esports district, as well as other city entertainment options. With transportation choices including park ’n ride and drop-off zones, the stadium is also close to 50,000 sq metres of shops, restaurants and entertainment spaces as well as hotels.

The 45-000 seat multi-functional stadium is fully compliant with FIFA requirements for club and international competition. Once open, it will serve as the home ground of Saudi Pro League football clubs Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr and it is one of the proposed venues for the Kingdom’s 2034 FIFA World Cup bid. It is also poised to host some of the region’s biggest sports events including the Saudi King Cup, the Asian Cup and possibly the 2034 Asian Games.

There will be an estimated 7.6 million annual visits to the stadium, which will be able to host events all year round in climate-controlled facilities, where energy consumption will be reduced through an eco-friendly cooling lake built directly under the stadium. The lake will use rainwater capture from the stadium and the surrounding area to pre-cool the air conditioning system.

Explaining the design, Rhys Courtney, senior principal and project lead for the stadium at Populous, said: “In designing this flagship venue, we were inspired both by the clifftop location, and the innovation and ‘Play Life’ ethos 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.

“The cubes and portals spill down the cliff to create a massive digital canvas that interacts with users at different scales, from street-level vistas to the three-sided seating bowl experience, to citywide views – transcending the stadium typology. The central stadium is encircled by towers creating a 365-day mixed use sports and entertainment precinct forming hierarchies of space and activation. A covered, mixed-reality street runs between the stadium and surrounding towers to circulate fans and the public towards the phenomenal cliff-edge views over Qiddiya.”

Abdullah bin Nasser Aldawood, managing director of the Qiddiya Investment Company, commented: “Our ambition is for Qiddiya City to become a global destination for entertainment, sports and culture and this iconic new stadium will be at its very heart. The futuristic venue aims to reinvent the traditional stadium concept and embody the true spirit of Qiddiya’s Power of Play philosophy. It uses state-of-the-art technology and innovative, world-leading design to put the spectator at the centre of the experience”.

The unveiling of the stadium follows the launch of Qiddiya City’s world-first multi-use gaming and esports district, with the Qiddiya City Esports Arena also designed by Populous.

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