THE BIG INTERVIEW: Almamoun Alshingiti, Executive Director of Development – Sports, Qiddiya Investment Company
In this latest industry interview, Katie McIntyre hears from Almamoun Alshingiti, Executive Director of Development – Sports, at the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC).
Can you start off by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your career highlights to date?
I am the Executive Director of Development – Sports, at the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC), and have 20 years of experience in business and strategy development.
I started my career with multi-national consumer-goods companies, including Proctor and Gamble and PepsiCo. Before joining QIC, I worked in the public sector on the National Sports School Strategy, developing physical education curriculums and school sports programmes for Saudi schools.
Aside from my office job, I have represented the Kingdom in Karate for many years, including on the Saudi national team, competing at the World Championships in 1992.
As Executive Director of Development – Sports at Qiddiya Investment Company, can you tell us about your role and key objectives?
This cornerstone of QIC will offer unique athletic experiences for men, women and children of all abilities, allowing them to participate in a range of sports and training programs, from beginner to elite levels.
This new opportunity will enhance the population’s well-being and produce future generations of Saudi national athletes and sports stars, with a goal to train athletes who will represent the Kingdom in the future Olympics and Paralympics.
It is my job to start laying the foundations on which these goals will be built, so I am currently cultivating the world’s best experts in the field for input and guidance, as well as developing partnerships and investment to propel the development of what will be our world-class facilities.
Qiddiya is a mammoth project with five cornerstones. Can you provide a short overview of each?
As you mentioned, QIC’s vision is based on these five cornerstones. These are values or strategic imperatives that will guide the content and delivery of a large portfolio of offerings along with the support facilities and industries needed to sustain Qiddiya as a self-contained ecosystem.
These are: PARKS & ATTRACTIONS, with amusement, theme and water parks and feature attractions; SPORTS & WELLNESS, introducing sports programs and facilities for all kinds of sports from hobbyists to professional athletes, including infrastructure capable of hosting international competitions and world-class training facilities and academies; MOTION & MOBILITY, providing adrenaline induced motor and sky sports, on road, off road and in the air; NATURE & ENVIRONMENT, exploring the great outdoors with environmental, nature and adventure activities; ARTS & CULTURE, bringing back traditional culture and arts, blending them with modern and global culture, to produce an array of historical, cultural and educational activities and events.
There will also be a range of real estate options and community services to fulfil the vision of Qiddiya to be a 24-hour destination resort community, with everything in one place.
Focusing on the Sports & Wellness offering, can you provide details on the strategic objectives for this specific project cornerstone?
Qiddiya will build a host of exemplary sporting facilities that nurture the stars of tomorrow. World-class infrastructure will be used to promote events and participation across a variety of athletic endeavours and advance sports and fitness in the Kingdom at grass roots and professional levels.
Promoting the lifestyle benefits of health and wellness, Qiddiya will boost the confidence and pride that sports can engender while creating new career paths for thousands of Saudi athletes and the sporting ecosystem of those who support them.
Can you tell us at what stage the project is and what the time-schedules for each phase are?
The Qiddiya project will be built in three phases, with the final phase completed by 2035, when we aim to host an anticipated 17 million visitors annually.
We are currently in Phase 1 of the project, which is expected to open in 2022. This phase will feature light infrastructure and anchor attractions, and we expect to attract 1.5 million visitors annually.
What are the next steps in terms of designs, upcoming tenders, and the like?
We are still in the early stages. We broke ground on site at the end of April this year, and we were incorporated into a standalone company in May. These were two major milestones for us.
Today, we are in the master-planning phase and as we progress we will have various opportunities for development and construction, strategic partnerships and more.
Many thanks to Almamoun Alshingiti for taking the time to do this interview with us.
About the Qiddiya project
Overview on Sports and Wellness:
The Sports and Wellness will offer State-of-the-art facilities and robust academy programs for grassroots activities to create a legacy of elite Saudi athletes.
- Encourage mass participation
- Develop elite sports
- Develop sports industry
- Leverage commercial opportunities
- Enthuse children and people with special needs
- Tackle health issues
- Empower women
- Create a vibrant society
Qiddiya is strategically situated 40km downtown from the Saudi capital Riyadh, on a 334 square kilometre site, characterised by unique mountainous terrain, dramatic 200m high cliffs, and breathtaking views.
It takes approximately one hour by car to reach Qiddiya from King Khaled International Airport and around 40 minutes from downtown Riyadh, making Qiddiya a great regional attraction.
Qiddiya will provide recreational and cultural activities to suit all segments of society. The facilities and sports activities on offer will be unique in the Kingdom, and will contribute to the discovery and development of the talents and skills of the Saudi youth, whilst motivating them to achieve excellence at local, regional and international levels.
Visitors will have access to innovatively designed facilities focusing on: theme parks and entertainment centres; sports amenities capable of hosting international competitions, and training academies; desert and asphalt tracks for motorsport enthusiasts; water and snow-based recreation; outdoor and adventure activities alongside nature and safari experiences; and an array of historical, cultural and educational activities and events.
The destination will also feature hotels, restaurants and shops offering the best hospitality, dining and retail experiences.