Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Over the last few months, Saudi Arabia has been working on developing its entertainment, arts, culture, and heritage sectors in an attempt to provide its citizens with more options to have fun at home, as well as to create more job opportunities for its youth. From identifying new natural and heritage sites, to new electronic tourist visas in the works, to developing tourism along its Red Seas coast, Saudi Arabia is set on keeping its citizens at home, while also attracting millions of tourists to its cities.
In line with these efforts, Abdullah Al-Dawood, chairman of Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), announced this week that his firm is currently developing about 20 centers – each around 50,000 to 100,000 square meters – in 14 to 15 cities across the Kingdom. The centers will feature a range of entertainment facilities such as cinemas, venues for public performances, restaurants, and retail spaces.
According to Saudi Gazette, Al-Dawood explained on the sidelines of a business conference in Jeddah that Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund is working on setting up this network of entertainment centers across the Kingdom as the government tries to jump-start a domestic leisure industry.
“We need to ignite investment by the private sector, so the government is taking the lead in this,” Dawood told Reuters.
As Al-Dawood explained, DIEC, established in January by the Public Investment Fund, is in the process of inviting private companies to invest alongside it on a commercial basis, aiming to set the centers up over the next several years. Although DIEC, with initial funding of 2.7 billion US dollars provided by the Public Investment Fund, will take the lead in major entertainment industry projects, Dawood stressed that it intended all of its projects to be commercially viable.
As Saudi Arabia presses on with its latest economic developments, a major focus of its efforts has been on highlighting the important role of tourism under Vision 2030, a national plan detailing a number of projects with the aim of diversifying the Kingdom’s oil-dependent economy and positioning the country as a global leader in the tourism sector.