Saudi Arabia inks UK deals to boost entertainment sector

8 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, a government body set up to develop its nascent entertainment industry, signed a variety of deals in the UK this week to support the development of the sector. The efforts are part of the entity's strategy to position the kingdom among the top four entertainment destinations in Asia.

The deals signed by GEA's chairman Turki Al include with: Flying Music, the global theatre company behind shows such as Thriller; the British magician Dynamo, or Steven Frayne; The Works Entertainment, which stages the world-famous show The Illusionist that was acquired by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group on Wednesday; Luna Cinema, which organises open-air cinema screenings; and 1001 Inventions, a company behind touring educational exhibitions, report agencies.

“The agreements aim to enrich and diversify entertainment offering in the kingdom and attract contributions from [other] world-class professionals and operators,” GEA said on Thursday.

Under the preliminary agreements, the kingdom and the entertainment companies expressed their intention to work together. No final business transactions have been signed as yet.

Separately, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired a workshop on Wednesday about tourism with the participation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, discussing growth prospects of the tourism industry and how it can attract investment.

Last year, the kingdom said it intends to stage around 5,000 events in 2018, as its entertainment industry starts to gain momentum. Singer Mariah Carey performed in Saudi Arabia this year. Other artists that performed in the country last year include David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab and The Black Eyed Peas.

The country aims to generate 16.5 billion riyals (Dh16.15bn) in revenues and create 70,000 jobs within the entertainment industry by 2030, as part of the broader Vision 2030 plans to modernise and diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues, GEA chief executive Amr Banaja told The National in October.