With the leisure and entertainment (L&E) sector being a central pillar of Saudi Vision 2030, the national development and quality of life programme, government employees have been busy creating new entities, such as the Ministry of Culture, the General Entertainment Authority and the General Sport Authority. And now, in addition, they are working on 11 more culture subsector bodies that will represent areas such as visual arts, performing arts, film and music.
Significant investments have been made in the Kingdom, where major changes are taking place. The aim is to build a thriving L&E sector and a comprehensive offering across segments, according to the Ideation Center, the think tank for Strategy&, which is part of the PwC network. And the subsequent results are expected to be improved wellbeing for residents, a boost in the economy thanks to the creation of jobs and an increase in household spending in the domestic L&E sector market.
As part of the effort, cinemas, international concerts and festivals have already become part of life in Saudi Arabia. Plus, there are continuously promoted neighborhood entertainment events and activities through the Enjoy Saudi platform. What’s more, mega projects that include a major focus on entertainment and culture, such as Al Qiddiyah Entertainment City, are being developed. Entertainment is also a key pillar of NEOM, the massive planned development project in northwest Saudi Arabia.
An assessment of the current and planned supply of offerings (in absolute and in proportional values) across visual arts, live entertainment, neighbourhood recreation, sports and theme parks was conducted, providing an understanding of the value proposition of each of the six GCC countries. While it was found Saudi Arabia has a limited supply of L&E offerings relative to its population size, if it achieves its 2030 plans, its overall L&E offerings, excluding sports, will be the richest and most diverse in the region in absolute terms.
Why Is the Leisure and Entertainment Sector Important for Citizens?
In a survey by the Ideation Center, which involved 1,200 consumers (nationals, as well as Arab, South Asian, and Western expatriates in the six GCC countries), two-thirds of respondents feel leisure and entertainment (L&E) is a “must” for quality of life and prosperity. What’s more, the participants see value in improving the quality and selection of L&E offerings. Among the primary benefits they perceive are a better lifestyle and increased happiness (69 percent of respondents), stronger family ties (50 percent of respondents) and stronger social connections (39 percent of respondents).
“L&E activities impact society’s wellbeing positively in a number of ways, through engaging nationally relevant culture and art activities, increasing citizen’s participation in recreational events and affirming belonging among diverse groups of people – which all leads to a higher quality of life,” Bahjat El-Darwiche, partner with Strategy& Middle East, said.