As part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to become one of the best places in the world to live and visit. Significant investments in entertainment and culture are helping to make this aspiration a reality.
Saudi society is changing rapidly. Everywhere you look, there is evidence of efforts to diversify the economy away from oil and improve the quality of life for the citizens of the Kingdom.
From the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, boxing matches and concerts to world-class tourist destinations, visitors and residents have witnessed the emergence of a new cultural hub.
One of the driving forces behind this shift is the country’s Entertainment General Authority (GEA), which was created by the government in 2016 to help realize Vision 2030, an ambitious roadmap to reimagine Saudi Arabia’s society and economy.
One of the first initiatives launched by GEA was the season in Riyadh. This event, usually lasting five months, showcases contemporary Saudi Arabia through a variety of entertainment programs that combine gastronomy, sports, theater and the arts in the Kingdom’s capital.
The Riyadh season and similar initiatives are perhaps the most visible representation of a key element of Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Agenda. The Quality of Life program represents a step forward in a country that until recently did not allow public screenings of films or listening to music. It is hoped that by building an ecosystem that nurtures local talent, as well as prioritizing the improvement of the Kingdom’s physical infrastructure, the Quality of Life program will open opportunities for citizens, residents and investors alike.
These efforts appear to be having the desired effect; Since the UN released its 2016 World Happiness Report, Saudi Arabia has climbed nine places from 34th to 25th. This puts the country ahead of Spain (29th), Italy (31st) and Japan (54th).
Engaging the private sector is a key means by which the government wants to make progress. Saudi business leaders such as Meshaal bin Omairh, CEO of the Al Othaim Investment Co. group, play an important role in improving the quality of life in the Kingdom. The leader in the construction, management and operation of large shopping centers in the Kingdom, whose complexes are annually visited by fifty million people, Al Othaim Investment Co. seeks to create unique multifunctional facilities, including residential real estate, restaurants, tourist facilities. attractions and cinemas.
“Saudi Arabia is leading the way in delivering ambitious and exciting entertainment projects both regionally and internationally,” says Bin Omair, “and Al Othaim Investment Co. is determined to provide innovative retail experiences for residents and visitors alike.”
The success of the company in Saudi Arabia is largely due to the leadership and ideas of Sheikh Abdullah Al Otaym, who founded the company. Long recognized as one of the most successful businessmen in the Arab world, Sheikh Abdullah was a pioneer of the retail and entertainment industry in the Kingdom – a mission that continues through the company that bears his name.
According to Arab News, Saudi domestic retail will reach $119 billion by 2023, and it is Saudi consumers who are driving retail diversification. In particular, young people help develop entertainment and cultural offerings in the Kingdom. This is not surprising given that two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s population is under 35 and eager to realize their country’s potential.
What awaits us in the future?
Saudi Arabia has already become a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters, and Al Ula, the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, has become a key location for Gerard Butler’s action thriller 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. The event, chaired by Prince Badr Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Culture, will return later this year. from December 1 to December 10, 2022 in the historical part of the city. Last year, the festival featured 138 films and short films from 67 countries in 34 languages, 27 of which hail from the Kingdom, a visual representation of the cultural renaissance taking place there.
The recent pace of change in Saudi Arabia is notable. Only in 2018, the first screening of a modern film took place in the Kingdom. Featured content is Marvel’s Black Panther, a film about a young leader opening his country to the world.
Looking to the future, Saudi Arabia aims to continue its innovation and become a regional and international leader in several areas. Private enterprise, led by Vision 2030 initiatives such as the Quality of Life Program, will play a major role in showcasing what the Kingdom has to offer.
However, citizens and residents who call Saudi Arabia home have the most to gain. It is their story and the story of a reimagined Saudi Arabia that promises the most.