Ramadan fun activities reflect on Saudi
RIYADH: The holy month of Ramadan is one of the platforms used to reinforce morals, ethics, and Islamic values through practicing rituals. However, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has been shouldering the responsibility to deliver and reinforce these values in its own way by supporting events across the Kingdom that introduce children and teenagers to the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions. The huge number of events can surely play a role in helping more local and international investors to step into the market. Arab News met Abdulrahman Al-Khalifa, GEA media and communications manager, to discuss the potential this market has and the challenges it faces. He explained that while the authority supports organization of events, not all receive financial backing. “We can finance up to 30 percent of events taking place in the Kingdom for the first time; the financial support is usually given to the most creative events. Al-Khalifa added that the GEA’s main aim is to create competitiveness, raise standards and keep ticket prices at a suitable level for both investors and visitors. “We do not directly control the pricing rate; however, we provide the investors and organizers with our consultations.” It has set a target of running 5,500 events across the Kingdom’s 13 governorates during 2018. Currently, the number of investors is increasing, although the sector is still experimenting. The potential is extremely high, especially after the unveiling of the “Quality of Life 2020” program, aiming to enhance lifestyles for everyone in the Kingdom by 2020. This includes the establishment of one opera house and 16 theaters, opening 45 cinemas and 16 entertainment centers, creating an aqua park and three funfairs and the creation of an art and culture island in Jeddah. Al-Khalifa added that the door is open for international investors. With the cooperation with General Investment Authority, high-profile meetings were held with entertainment investors and big companies’ CEOs in the US during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit. And 350 international investors attended a summit in Los Angeles to hear more about opportunities in the Kingdom. Five agreements were signed during the summit, including for a Cirque du Soleil performance, cooperation with Feld Entertainment Inc. to produce and conduct live shows, as well as Disney live shows. Cooperation with National Geographic will result in 10 virtual reality cities by 2019. “Foreign investment will surely help with job creation for Saudi youth throughout the process of preparation, operation and execution, helping all parties to conduct win-win business,” he said.