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Saudi Arabia bolsters entertainment offering

After hosting its first major music festival and announcing the first solo show by an international band, Saudi Arabia prepares for most live event-focused months yet

By Anna Grace on 28 Aug 2019

Saudi Arabia bolsters entertainment expansion

Saudi Arabia hosted its first major music festival, Jeddah World Fest, in July

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) is pushing forward with its commitment to boosting the live events in the country, forming partnerships with event producers and creating “seasons” dedicated to different kinds of entertainment activities.

The GEA recently launched its own website, calling for applications from event organisers and potential partners ahead of the upcoming Riyadh Season, which is considered the biggest entertainment event in the country’s capital. The deadline for application is at the end of August.

The Saudi Seasons 2019 programme, launched by Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, divides the year into eleven sections, with cultural events dedicated to a specific region of the country in each one.

Around 20 million visitors are expected to visit the two-month long Riyadh season from 11 October to 15 December, which promises to be the most entertainment-focused yet. The season kicks off with a performance by K-pop stars BTS at the capital city’s 70,000-capacity King Fahd stadium.

A major music event closed the recent Jeddah season, in the form of the Roqu Media-promoted Jeddah World Fest, which took place from June 8 to July 18, constituting the kingdom’s largest music festival to date.

“The GEA has a stated ambition to become one of the top-ten global entertainment destinations”

“The GEA has a stated ambition to become one of the top-ten global entertainment destinations and win back a share of the $20 billion that Saudi nationals spend on the overseas sector each year,” states Dishan Isaac, senior show manager of the Prolight + Sound Middle East exhibition.

According to the Saudi Gazette, the authority has also recently established partnerships with other event producers including National Geographic Encounter, IMG Artists and LuxuryKSA, in its bid to boost the entertainment sector.

“These agreements will require new venues to be built for these entertainment programs, fuelling increased supply opportunities in the country,” adds Isaac.

The Saudi government announced a US$2.67 billion investment in the entertainment sector in 2017, as part of its Vision 2030 economic reform plan.

Since then, the kingdom has seen performances from international artists including Mariah Carey, Jason Derulo and Marshmello, hosted its first-ever major, ticketed music festival and put on its first gender-integrated concert series.


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