Qiddiya Press Release

Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia’s Future Entertainment, Sport and Cultural Destination, Announces a Global Advisory Board

  • Twelve leading experts from around the world to advise Qiddiya, the 334-square-km entertainment, sports and cultural destination on the outskirts of Riyadh
  • Advisory Board made up of the best of international experience from business, academia and the NGO community to support Qiddiya’s 300 activities
  • Advisory Board to boost Qiddiya’s visibility with collaborators and investors, and offer ongoing insights and advice from global perspectives.


July 14 2018: Qiddiya, the entertainment, sport and cultural destination on the edge of Riyadh, today announced the formation of its global Advisory Board. The expert Advisory Board, made up of twelve expert advisors, will be a core part of supporting Qiddiya, which will attract 17 million visitors and employ some 60,000 people over the next decade.


Qiddiya is a core part of Vision 2030’s aspiration to diversify the Saudi Arabian economy and enable wider societal transformation. The advisors come from across themed entertainment, hospitality, grassroots and elite sports, adventure and motor activities, culture and the arts. They also bring specialist insight from the worlds of planning and design, finance, regulation, and commercial real estate development.


Michael Reininger, Chief Executive Officer of Qiddiya, commented on the value the Advisory Board brings to the project: ‘Qiddiya is meant to be a living concept that activates and inspires the young people of Saudi Arabia through a broad spectrum of new experiences and opportunities for their lifestyles and their professional endeavors. Through these efforts, we hope to help grow tomorrow’s national heroes. By bringing together luminaries from so many sectors, we seek to inspire our own long-term vision and to inform our efforts, enabling business decisions bolstered by the very best international insight and experience.’


The advisers will have a role advising Qiddiya’s Board and Executive Team. They will collectively advise on best practices within a broad range of subject matters from their own experiences, introduce potential operators and investors to the opportunities offered by the rapidly growing Saudi market –particularly the eight million people in greater Riyadh.


Reininger went on to note: ‘This is a project conceived on an unprecedented scale; it will be not just a physical construct, but a vision that is powered by people. We need both the practical experiences and blue-sky perspectives from expertise outside of the daily pursuit of our mission to build something of current relevance and enduring potential. Our Advisory Board will be a vital source of inspiration, provocation and evaluation.’


Almamoun Alshingiti, Qiddiya’s official spokesperson emphasized that the Advisory Board offers a unique skillset. ‘Not only will Qiddiya’s impact as a destination be increased by the skills of Advisory Board members, but the project’s ability to influence several socio-economic issues will be too.’


Alshingiti went on to note: ‘The collective experience of the Advisory Board will enhance the project’s role in economic diversification, public health issues, urban development, youth skills, entrepreneurship and female empowerment; all areas that will prove critical to the enduring legacy of the project in its transformative role in Saudi society.’


The business underpinnings of Qiddiya seek a market share of the $30 billion spent annually by Saudis on foreign tourism and to increase domestic spending within KSA on culture and entertainment $17 billion by 2030, from 3% to 6% of current household income. In this way, the Advisory Board will help to fulfill key goals set forward in Vision 2030.


Initial areas for the Advisory Board’s attention include assessing the strategic vision of the project and the master plan and design for Qiddiya, as well as the development of the project’s overall brand and positioning.


The members of the Advisory Board are:


  • Maxwell Anderson, President, Souls Grown Deep Foundation – former President of the Association of Art Museum Directors, art historian and administrator, Max Anderson is globally recognized in the creative industries, devoting his career to advancing the mission of non-profit cultural institutions, while creating best practices to insure their development, sustainability and youth appeal.


  • Alistair Gosling, Founder and CEO, Extreme International – A global leader and expert in the development of extreme and action sports, leisure and entertainment resorts and centres. As the creator of The Extreme Sports TV Channel, Alistair has more than 25 years of experience advising innovative governments on adventure sports tourism development, and pioneering global marketing campaigns for brands and destinations through athletes, events and media.


  • Michael Johnson, President & Founder, Michael Johnson Performance – widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time; four times an Olympic champion and eight times a world champion, Michael Johnson is now the founder of Michael Johnson Performance, building grassroots and elite sports performance programs.


  • Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International – with 45 years of experience providing strategic, financial, M&A, operational asset management and integration services to the travel, hospitality and leisure sectors, Alex Kyriakidis is a leading real estate and hospitality player on the global stage.


  • Michael Pask, Founder, Michael Pask Advisory – with over 25 years of experience working for WME IMG, the world’s largest Sports, Entertainment and Media business as Senior VP, Mike Pask is an expert in sports, education, culture and sustainable developments, focusing on brand development, sales, business development and relationship building.


  • Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Managing Director and Head of Global Hotel Desk, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group - is the leading expert in cross-border hospitality real estate investment, having advised on the sale of some of the most iconic hotels around the world to Sovereign Wealth Funds, Private Equity Groups and Institutional investors. With access to the largest investor pool around the world, Gilda Perez-Alvarado is also at the heart of the latest international lifestyle and development trends in the hospitality real estate sector.


  • Bill Reese, CEO, International Youth Foundation – with a focus on youth skills and STEM development, Bill Reese works to bring culturally relevant unique partnerships, initiatives, and curricula that prepare young men and women to succeed as citizens, employees, entrepreneurs, and change-makers.


  • Tim Richards, Founder and CEO, Vue International – one of the top five leading cinema exhibitors in the world known for delivering industry leading innovations and technological advances. Tim has close to 30 years’ experience in cinema exhibition and has extensive international development and operational experience in all major international markets. A film pioneer, Tim has also been integrally involved in all aspects of the film industry including through his involvement as a Governor of the British Film Institute (BFI) and several other government and trade bodies.


  • Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder, Blackstone – as Co-Founder of one of the world’s largest investment firms ($450 billion assets under management as of 3/31/18) Mr. Schwarzman is a trusted partner to the world’s leading institutions. Blackstone is an established leader across alternative asset classes, including private equity, real estate, hedge funds, credit and infrastructure, with investments spanning a wide range of industries and geographies. Mr. Schwarzman is also an active philanthropist with a history of building transformational projects that offer solutions to global challenges.    


  • Bob Ward, Founder, Strategic Insights & Creative Imagination – having co-founded Universal Studios Creative as well as being instrumental in the creative repositioning of the Universal Studios Tour to a new and pioneering theme park brand, Bob Ward is at the forefront of planning and design in the global leisure, entertainment and destination resorts sector.


  • Rosa Zeegers, EVP of Consumer Products & Experiences, National Geographic – with more than 25 years’ experience in licensing, consumer products and marketing, with National Geographic, Rosa Zeegers specializes in creating brand building extensions though sustainable products and experiences that engage consumers.