Saudi Arabia’s entertainment sector will grow significantly by 2022

With Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has ambitions to become one of the best places to live and visit in the world. Significant investments in entertainment and culture are helping to make this quest a reality.

Society in Saudi Arabia is changing rapidly. Everywhere you look there is evidence of efforts to diversify the economy away from oil and improve the quality of life of the Kingdom’s citizens.

From the Saudi Grand Prix, boxing matches and concerts to world-class tourist destinations, visitors and residents are witnessing the emergence of a new cultural center.

One of the driving forces behind the change is the country’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which was set up by the government in 2016 to help manage Vision 2030, an ambitious roadmap for rethinking Saudi Arabia’s society and economy.

One of the first initiatives GEA launched was the Riyadh season. This event, usually five months, presents modern Saudi Arabia through a variety of entertainment programs combining gastronomy, sports, theater and art in the capital of the kingdom.

The Riyadh season and similar initiatives are perhaps the most visual presentation of a key pillar of Vision 2030 – the Quality of Life Program. The Quality of Life program is a gradual change in a country that, until relatively recently, did not allow public screenings of films or music. It is hoped that by creating an ecosystem that fuels local talent, as well as prioritizing improvements to the Kingdom’s physical infrastructure, the Quality of Life Program will unlock opportunities for both citizens, residents and investors.

Remarkable successes

These efforts seem to be having the desired effect; since the UN published its 2016 World Happiness Report, Saudi Arabia has risen nine places from 34th to 25th. This puts the country higher than Spain (29th), Italy (31st) and Japan (54th).

Private sector involvement is a key tool through which the government wants to stimulate progress. Saudi business leaders such as Meshaal bin Omair, CEO of Al Othaim Investment Co., play an important role in improving the quality of life in the Kingdom. Market leader in the construction, management and operation of major shopping centers in the Kingdom, with fifty million visitors a year to its complexes, Al Othaim Investment Co. strives to create unique mixed-use destinations that include residential properties, restaurants, tourist attractions and cinemas.

“Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of ambitious and exciting entertainment projects both regionally and internationally,” said Bin Omair, and Al Othaim Investment Co. is committed to providing innovative retail experiences for both residents and visitors. ”

The company was successful in Saudi Arabia largely thanks to the leadership and ideas of Sheikh Abdullah Al Otaim, who founded the company. Long recognized as one of the most successful businessmen in the Arab world, Sheikh Abdullah was a pioneer in the Kingdom’s retail and entertainment industry, a mission that continues through the company that bears his name.

According to Arab News, the Saudi domestic retail industry will cost $ 119 billion by 2023, and Saudi consumers are the ones driving the diversification of retail. In particular, young people help to develop entertainment and cultural offerings in the Kingdom. This is not a surprise, given that two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s population is under the age of 35 and wants to realize its country’s potential.

What does the future hold?

Saudi Arabia has already become a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters, with Alula, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Kingdom, serving as a key location for Gerard Butler’s action film, Kandahar.

Similarly, the coastal city of Jeddah is home to the Red Sea Film Festival, Saudi Arabia’s first international film festival, originally launched in 2019. Presided over by Prince Badr Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s culture minister, the event will return later this year. from 1 to 10 December 2022 in the historic old town of the city. Last year, the festival presented 138 films and short films from 67 countries in 34 languages, 27 of which are from the Kingdom – a visual presentation of the cultural renaissance taking place there.

The recent pace of change in Saudi Arabia is noticeable. It was not until 2018 that the Kingdom hosted its first modern film screening. Content of choice, Marvel’s Black Panther, a film about a young leader who opens his country to the world.

Looking to the future, Saudi Arabia insists on continuing its innovation and becoming a regional and international leader in several areas. Private businesses led by Vision 2030 initiatives, such as the Quality of Life Program, will play a key role in demonstrating what the Kingdom has to offer.

Yet the citizens and residents who call Saudi Arabia home are the ones who have the most to gain. This is their story and the story of a rethought Saudi Arabia that holds the greatest promise.

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