Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
Click the interactive map below to explore 60+ market reports
The online directory of 650+ arenas will go live shortly
Saudi Arabia is a political hot potato due to its human rights record and certain unresolved international controversies, but it is also a market of increasing significance for the international touring fraternity and the wider region.
While destinations such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi can call on only a very finite expat audience, Saudi Arabia has a population of more than 35million, over a third of them aged 15-34. The opening up of tourism and mass entertainment in the kingdom, under crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, has unleashed delirious crowds upon events such as local promoter MDLBEAST’s Soundstorm festivals in Riyadh, as well as numerous recent artist shows, instantly making Saudi Arabia the focal point of the region.
And while some companies and artists are uncomfortable being associated with the more troubling aspects of the Saudi regime, the commercial potential of the market appears destined to win out.
The opening up of tourism and mass entertainment in the kingdom, under crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, has unleashed delirious crowds upon events.
Most of the recent glut of Saudi events have taken place on outdoor sites or in temporary structures, such as the Saudi General Sports Authority’s 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena near Riyadh, but further building is in progress as the state and the live industry attempt to create a bricks-and-mortar infrastructure for its burgeoning business.
In Riyadh, the 25,000-capacity King Saud University Stadium, also known as Victory Arena, is in the process of being reborn as MRSOOL Park, based around the stadium, occupied by Al Nasr FC, but with the broader ambition of creating a seven- day-a-week sports and entertainment destination.
The commercial potential of the market appears destined to win out.
In Jeddah, ASM Global is developing the 20,000-seat Jeddah Arena within the Airport City complex at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, due for completion in 2025. Meanwhile, far from arena scale but still a serious statement of cultural intent, is the incredible Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia’s north-western desert – ‘maraya’ being Arabic for ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection.’
The largest mirrored building in the world, clad in 9,740m2 of reflective panels, it houses a 560-capacity venue, conference centre, exhibition space, and restaurant.