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Mon 14 Oct 2019 02:08 PM

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Deals struck to boost Saudi Arabia's entertainment push

General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Al-Sheikh reveals ticket sales for events have hit 80%

Deals struck to boost Saudi Arabia's entertainment push

Saudi Arabia is continuing its push to be recognised as an entertainment industry leader on the global stage with three deals signed at the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh.

Authorities in the kingdom are actively trying to woo foreign investors and complete their larger Saudi Vision 2030 goals of diversifying its economy away from petrochemicals and building new sectors, ranging from sports and concerts to massive theme parks and tourist attractions.

And the three Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) inked at the opening session of the Joy Forum19 event, organised by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), are designed to cement that.

According to media reports, the first agreement was signed by GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh and Abdullah Al-Sawaha, minister of communications and information technology. The second pact was between GEA and King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. While the third deal was a financing guarantee program for small-and-medium enterprises.

Turki Al-Sheikh is quoted by the Saudi Gazette as saying: “Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands. Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi. We have 300,000 visitors to our events and our sales have hit 80 percent.”

Al-Sheikh revealed that the GEA has named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, also known as the The Artist of Arabs, and also another after singer Abu Baker Salim, who is widely known as the father of Khaleeji music.

The GEA has previously said that it believes investment into entertainment infrastructure will reach $64 billion over the next decade, adding nearly $5bn to GDP and generating 224,000 new jobs by 2030.