As Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud moves to diversify the economy and reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil, it was revealed today that $64B will be invested in the entertainment sector over the next decade. At a press conference in Riyadh, General Entertainment Authority chief Ahmad bin Aqeel Al-Khatib said the money will come from both the government and the private sector.
The plans include Saudi’s first opera house after concerts had been banned for the past two decades. This follows the recent lifting of a 35-year ban on public movie theaters, opening up a what is expected to be a lucrative market. It all falls under the progressive Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 program. These sorts of reforms are revolutionary in what has been an ultra-conservative Kingdom. Women were recently granted the right to drive and attend football matches.
Overall, the GEA said this week that 2018 would be an “unprecedented year of culture and entertainment.” The calendar includes more than 5,000 events, offering a diverse lineup of live entertainment and designed to appeal to all of Saudi society.
The GEA is supporting the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program, and says it aims at “setting goals and drawing strategies that contribute to the development of the entertainment industry in the Kingdom by diversifying investment opportunities and creating a diverse and sustainable sector, in addition to helping achieve the Vision 2030 goals through the significant contribution of the entertainment sector to the economy and its positive impact on economic diversification and the gross domestic product annually.”
Al-Khatib said today that 500 companies have registered to organize entertainment events in one year. His org is “proud to be one of the drivers of transformation in the Kingdom, through its clear purpose to build a world-class entertainment industry that will put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and entertainment map.”
Already establishing plans to open multiplexes in what could be a very lucrative market are Vue International, AMC Holdings and the Kuwait National Cinema Company in partnership with leading Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment’s exhibition arm, Cinescape Cinemas.
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is further in talks about buying a stake in WME holding company Endeavor, investing more than $500M for what could be a 5%-10% share.