DUBAI: Amidst the hustle and bustle of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming event season, featuring extravagant city-based celebrations in Riyadh and Diriyah, a wave of cutting-edge entertainment ventures is emerging, driven by innovative technology and substantial investments in the Kingdom.
In a significant development this October, Saudi Arabia disclosed a $55 million investment in HyperSpace, a three-year-old local startup specializing in the creation of digital theme parks within shopping centers. This funding initiative, facilitated by Riyadh Season, a government-supported entertainment endeavor under the Public Investment Fund, saw substantial contributions from various stakeholders, including US-based Galaxy Interactive, Georgia SEGA Ventures, and UK-headquartered Apis Venture Partners.
Describing HyperSpace as “the world’s most innovative entertainment attraction,” Alexander Heller, the CEO of HyperSpace, emphasized its unique approach to location-based entertainment.
Heller explained, “It offers a completely new approach to location-based entertainment, as an attraction that is extremely innovative, built on technologies that already exist in the digital world and are being pulled into a physical front end for the first time.”
HyperSpace introduces a fusion of digital and physical entertainment, encompassing gaming attractions, immersive theater experiences, and interactive zones for content creation. The latest addition to their portfolio, the House of Hype, located in the capital city, debuted as part of the fourth edition of Riyadh Season, hailed as the world’s largest winter entertainment event.
With vibrant phosphorescent lights welcoming guests, House of Hype boasts futuristically designed rooms, providing visitors with a virtual immersion in technology, gaming, and even shopping within the expansive immersive entertainment park. Heller elaborated, stating, “It is very much inspired by the idea of building a big physical video game and pulling the identities and tactics of the AAA gaming world into a physical space.”
The innovative PARX app, according to Heller, serves as HyperSpace’s digital layer, enhancing the visitor’s engagement within the park and beyond. House of Hype aims to familiarize a mass market audience with Web3 technologies, introducing concepts like wallets, non-fungible tokens, and “in-world currency” in a meaningful and accessible manner.
HyperSpace, founded in Dubai in January 2021, comprises a team of industry experts from renowned companies like Google, SNAP, The Mill, Amazon, Unity, and Apple. Bridging the gap between AAA video games, social media, and in-person entertainment, HyperSpace’s debut attraction, AYA, achieved significant success in Dubai, selling over 480,000 tickets in its first nine months of operation.
Riyadh Season, ongoing from Oct. 28 and concluding in April 2024, has become a major attraction for both local and international visitors. General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Alalshikh highlighted the event’s commitment to incorporating high-tech elements, offering 60 “new experiences” ranging from the world of “Barbie” to the introduction of the Disney castle in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia’s push for innovation in the entertainment sector aligns with its Vision 2030 plan, aiming to diversify the economy by investing in cultural, tourism, sports, and technology sectors. With ongoing developments such as the acquisition of Scopely by Savvy Games and the ambitious Qiddya Entertainment City project, Saudi Arabia is solidifying its position as a global hub for entertainment and technology.
The Kingdom’s entertainment and amusement sector is projected to reach $1.17 billion by 2030, reflecting its commitment to transforming the quality of life for its citizens through diverse cultural, entertainment, and sports initiatives.