Saudi GEA Head: Efforts Underway to Transform Entertainment Sector into Tourist Attraction

Saudi GEA Head: Efforts Underway to Transform Entertainment Sector into Tourist Attraction

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 - 11:15
Faisal Bafarat, the chief executive officer of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA), speaks at the World Government Summit in Dubai. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Dubai - Musaid al Zayani
Faisal Bafarat, the chief executive officer of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA), revealed that the Saudi body is working on transforming entertainment-related sectors into touristic attractions.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, he said that events were organized in the eastern region of the Kingdom to attract Gulf tourists. He added that the authority expects a growth in the number of activities during 2018 from 2017, which saw the organization of some 2,200 activities throughout Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from the Dubai summit, the CEO said that since mid-2016 and the beginning of 2017, focus was shifted towards developing strategies in all sub-sectors of entertainment by changing the concept of entertainment among Saudi society, which was limited to restaurants and shopping.

“Events are not limited to live entertainment and theaters, but they will go beyond that to reach amusement parks, theaters, sports and electronic games," said Bafarat, while noting the increasing number of plays and festivals.

"We tried not to focus on just one thing, but to be more general, through a plan of action that resulted in the implementation of initiatives quickly. In the meantime, work will continue on initiatives involving amusement parks, which will take up 3 to 4 years.”

Bafarat revealed that the events of 2018 calendar year will be announced within 10 days.

He explained that the main challenges facing the GEA are how to keep pace with the aspirations of the public, given that their expectations are always higher than what is presented. Providing world-class activities in a manner that is well suited to the country's customs and traditions will also top the body’s list of efforts.

In his speech at the World Government Summit, Bafarat said that the entertainment sector in the kingdom is also expected to generate 114,000 direct and 110,000 indirect job opportunities by 2030.


“We want to put Saudi Arabia on the global entertainment map, so keep your eyes open for 2018. The target is to organize at least one top tier international event on each weekend in 2018,” he added.

“In 2017, there were more than 2,000 events. We were able to entertain more than 8 million audiences, and we managed to enable 149 event providers and vendors,” he added.

The kingdom set a clear target to increase household spending on entertainment and cultural activities inside the country from 2.9 to 6 percent by 2030, according to its Vision 2030 economic overhaul plan.

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