John Lickrish does not want to expand to the kingdom "without having a long term sustainable business plan"
Abu Dhabi-owned events leader Flash Entertainment is in talks with potential partners in Saudi Arabia, but has no robust plans to expand to the kingdom yet, according to CEO John Lickrish.
Flash Entertainment is the force behind the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and the Yasalam entertainment programme as part of the Formula One in Abu Dhabi. It has also hosted the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE.
The firm has brought high profile artists to the emirates, including The Rolling Stones, Paul MacCartney, The Who, Rihanna, Andrea Bocelli, Coldplay, Christina Aguilera, George Michael, Alicia Keys and Shakira.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Lickrish said Flash Entertainment is currently focusing on growing in Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai, where the new Coca-Cola Arena opened in June with 17,000-capacity.
“We’re still looking at opportunities [in Saudi Arabia]. We’ve had a lot of discussions with stakeholders in KSA and those things are ongoing. Obviously now our focus is on Abu Dhabi… We’re looking for the sweet spot, we’re looking for a strong long term partner and someone who has their name attributed, at least for the vision we have.
“Everyone is interested in KSA but again we’re here for the long term and I want to make sure we don’t just come down there and enter into the industry without having a long term sustainable business plan that goes with it,” he said.
Lickrish said 2019 is a “hectic year” partly due to the Yas Bay Arena project that’s currently under development and scheduled for completion in March 2020.
The 18,000 capacity indoor venue that will be capable of hosting sport, entertainment and other events year-round on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It will be built as part of Miral's $3.27bn entertainment, leisure master development project planned for Yas Island.
“It was a bit of a hectic year as far as managing our programs and event delivery. We’re always striving for innovation as well as delivering the best experience for our customer, so we want to make sure we get all of those things right. We just had so much expansion locally and as well as doing some events in Dubai in their new [Coca-Cola] arena, and managing our new facility [Yas Bay Arena] coming online in March,” Lickrish said.
Flash Entertainment will host an “A-plus-plus artist, somewhere around the Cold Play stature” for New Year’s 2020 celebrations, according to Lickrish.