UK consultancy Cundall eyes work on Saudi Arabia's Neom, Qiddiya

Middle East boss says company is also working on plans to develop around 30 cinemas in the kingdom with a GCC giant

Qiddiya, pictured here during its 2018 launch, is an entertainment gigaproject under development in Saudi Arabia.
Qiddiya, pictured here during its 2018 launch, is an entertainment gigaproject under development in Saudi Arabia.

Neom and Qiddiya are on UK engineering firm Cundall’s “hit list” of Saudi Arabian schemes that it wants to work as entertainment development gathers steam in the kingdom.

Multi-disciplinary construction consultancy Cundall's top boss said the firm is interested in working on the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom and 334km² Qiddiya gigaprojects, as well as delivering cinema fit-outs in Saudi.

Cundall, which will open an office in Abu Dhabi this year, has a track record of delivering entertainment fit-outs in the region, and will draw on that expertise to work in Saudi Arabia, the company's managing director for the Middle East, Richard Stratton, told Construction Week.

Stratton said the company is working with an entertainment operator on “plans to develop about 30 cinemas initially in Saudi”, and while he could not disclose the name of the company, he said the operator already had up to 15 projects elsewhere in the GCC.

Cundall's cinema projects will range from 2,000m² to up to 10,000m², “depending on the number of screens and capacity”.

“We are also looking at bigger developments like Neom and Qiddiya as opportunities, because those large, mixed-use developments always have [an] entertainment [factor],” Stratton continued.

“At the moment, everything is in the embryonic stages [and we are conducting] market research into what opportunities exist for us. There is a new entity in Saudi Arabia called Seven [Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company] which is very much focused on entertainment. We’re working to find out what projects they are involved in, so we can demonstrate our expertise.”

Seven is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and recently launched its first family entertainment project. Last month, the business unveiled plans to develop a 10ha entertainment complex between King Abdullah Road and the Eastern Ring Road, with a Riyadh Metro station located nearby.

The multi-cluster complex will have cinemas, shops, cafes, restaurants, sports activities, stages for live shows, with green open spaces.

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