Diriyah arena ready for the ‘Clash on the Dunes’

Everyone from Saudi Arabia has been brilliant to work with — Joshua

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RIYADH — An iconic boxing match needs a spectacular venue and few can compare to the Diriyah Arena here, which is now ready for a historic night as the Clash on the Dunes when world champion Andy Ruiz II takes on Anthony Joshua.

Earlier this week, Joshua has promised the world an ‘iconic evening of boxing’ as he flew into the Kingdom ahead of the epic bout on Dec. 7.

The first-ever world heavyweight title fight to take place in the Middle East will be staged in the custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the home of heroes and kings.

Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing, said: "The arena and site are utterly breath-taking, with a theme park and concert the night before as well. It's like nothing we've seen before in boxing. The Clash on the Dunes will be a night to remember. We can't wait."

The Diriyah Arena has been constructed by 175 staff working tirelessly to transform the 10,000 sq. m site, which includes 295 tons of steel, which would stretch 57km. Work began on Oct. 7, just two months out, with 3,000 sqm of scaffolding needed to complete the work.

On the night more than 2,000 staff will ensure proceedings run smoothly in the arena, 95 percent of which is reusable, and which will take a month to take down.

Joshua will be looking to regain his WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO belts after suffering defeat to Ruiz in New York earlier this year, but the British heavyweight will have the backing thousands of UK fans join boxing enthusiasts from more than 60 countries.

Ahead of landing in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night to set up his pre-fight training camp, Anthony Joshua said: “It’ll definitely be a night people will tell their grandchildren they were at, one of those iconic evenings of boxing. Everyone from Saudi Arabia has been brilliant to work with."

Fans will approach the Diriyah Arena via the Diriyah Oasis, a huge sprawling entertainment hub, which includes ice-skating outdoors, skydiving, jet skiing and ziplining among a host of activities on offer.

The Diriyah Oasis is split into the four zones — Nature, Imagination, Reflection, Excitement — giving families a place to come together, and at its heart lies an astonishing grand installation by world-renowned Italian artist, Edoardo Tresoldi.

The Clash on the Dunes forms part of the Diriyah Season, epic month of sports, which kicked off with Formula E at the weekend, the Diriyah Tennis Cup featuring eight of the best men’s players on the planet, and the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, an elite competition with Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifying points on the line.

The Diriyah Season is also supported by the Diriyah Music Festival with huge concerts taking place around the event. On Dec. 6, the night before the Clash on the Dunes, major artists who are yet to be announced will perform.

So far artists such as Imagine Dragons, DJ Alan Walker, Clean Bandit and Maluma have performed to 40,000 concert goers.

Tickets for all of the Diriyah Season’s spectacular events, concerts and entertainment will be available at www.diriyahseason.sa. — SG


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