A new industry report predicts the Saudi entertainment and amusement sector to hit a massive $1.17 billion by 2030, translating to a staggering 47.65% growth per year. According to a US-based Research and Markets study, this growth compares to just $23.77 million in 2020 alone.
A unique and world-class entertainment hub
According to the US-based report, the Saudi entertainment industry has grown massively, thanks to the concerted effort by the government that has seen the construction of a unique and world-class entertainment hub in the country.
The awe-inspiring entertainment hub features cultural and historical attractions, innovative rides, and mega sporting events. The hub provides the much-needed impetus to get things moving and propel the Saudi entertainment and amusement sector to new heights.
As part of an ambitious plan for economic and social reform, ostensibly to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a Vision 2030 project. The project targets the entertainment industry, setting up the country as a popular leisure destination point for locals and foreigners.
Government’s hand in the growth
The Saudi government has played a significant role in the projected growth of the entertainment and amusement sector, establishing the General Authority for Entertainment (GAE) in 2016.
The GAE brought forth massive entertainment investments in the country, the most significant being the Qiddiya project announced a year later, 2017. Work at the site, located just 40 minutes from the Saudi capital, began a year later.
The project expected to cover well over 300 square kilometers of land, will include a Six Flags theme park, Formula One racing track, sports facilities including football stadia and athletes tracks, and development infrastructure. Others include an expansive range of creative and artistic and cultural activities.
One of the major highlights of the amusement park is an enthralling and record-breaking roller coaster appropriately called Falcon Flight. It’s set to be the flagship attraction of the theme park, scheduled to open in 2023, featuring 28 attractions and rides across six themed lands.
Golf legend, Jack Nicklaus, has also ventured into the Qiddiya project, offering to design a golf course in the park. It would be his first golf design project in the Kingdom. Nicklaus made the announcement in February after observing the progress of the project.
Speaking to Arab News, Phillipe Gas, CEO of Qiddiya, sought to shed more light on the project. The CEO stated the Qiddiya project is poised to become the capital of Sports, Art, and Entertainment. He further explained that the Giga project was founded on the need to overarch Saudi Vision 2030.
The Qiddiya CEO also noted that it would be a disruptive destination thrust onto the world stage as the home of the most immersive and innovative experiences on a level never seen before. It will be a celebration of life, a place for families and couples to spend quality time, and create unforgettable memories.
Just last month, Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh, GAE chairman, made public the results of the Ideas for Entertainment initiative. The top 20 ideas had been selected from more than 12,000 proposals submitted for the project.
The top submission dubbed “The Grove” depicted a rich experience featuring an array of activities including musical and theatrical shows, hiking expeditions, and more.
Entertainment is one of the key pillars of Vision 2030, which aims to enhance household expenditure in the sector from 2.9% to 6% by the end of the decade.
The AMC connection
The Saudi entertainment sector received a major boost in December 2020 following AMC Entertainment Holdings’ move to open a sixth movie theater in the country. AMC is the world’s largest movie exhibition company. Saudi Arabia happened to feature in the company’s plans to expand to 50 locations by 2024.
AMC also partnered with the Saudi Entertainment Ventures to set up the Saudi Cinema Co., with the full blessings of the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The Saudi Cinema Co. became a state investment and development cog of the country’s entertainment industry.
The entertainment project has also attracted another overseas player, UAE-based chain VOX Cinemas, who plans to build 600 giant screens across the Kingdom by 2023. This would be part of SR2 billion, an equivalent of $533 million investment.
Home-grown cinema brands have also burst onto the scene, led by MUVI Cinemas, who announced in April a massive SR820 million expansion plans for this year. MUVI plans to grow to 307 screens Kingdom-wide over the next year, and launch 23 new sites in 8 key regions.
Effect of the pandemic
The entertainment and amusement sector in the Saudi Kingdom came to a grinding halt as the anti-coronavirus restrictions came into effect in the first quarter of 2020, crippling the economy for the better part of the year.
The restrictions have begun to lift, and as of May 18, 2021, a return to the entertainment scene is gradually taking shape, albeit with social distancing policies firmly in place, as well as the wearing of face masks.
As the pandemic subsides, and mass vaccination gathers momentum across the Kingdom, it’s just a matter of time before Riyadh explodes onto the global scene as a top destination for fun-seeking enthusiasts.
The pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time – the entertainment industry had come from a 35-year ban on cinema, which had elapsed in 2018. Some of the world’s leading lights in the cinema industry had begun moving in when the pandemic struck.
Take advantage of this growth
Without a proper and thorough understanding of Saudi and international law, you may not be in a position to tap into the growing entertainment and amusement sector. You need to work with professional and experienced lawyers to take advantage of the growth in this bustling industry. If you are planning to venture into the entertainment industry, please contact HMCO today for the next course of action.