The upcoming Riyadh Season in Saudi Arabia has set a target to create 200,000 new jobs in the kingdom, according to the head of the country’s General Entertainment Authority.

In a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of the GEA, said: “Riyadh Season, in its fourth edition, aims to create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs and enable nearly 2,000 local and international companies covering an area of more than 7 million square metres of entertainment experiences around the world.

The 2023 event kicks off on October 28, with a typical season lasting five months with several free events, along with many ticketed top-billed concerts and live performances.

This year’s big-ticket event will kick off with some MMA action where the current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will take on former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh.

The optics of such a fight is exactly what the country is banking on to draw 10-12 million visitors to its annual entertainment money-spinner.

Related story: Celebrities, concerts, MMA action: How Riyadh Season has become an entertainment money-spinner for Saudi Arabia

Riyadh Season’s calendar of events will include nearly 60% new experiences, according to Al Sheikh, including a Disney Castle and shows, as part of its centenary celebrations. Other highlights will include a Barbie World experience, following the viral hype of the recently released Margot Robbie film, along with 30 shows featuring international artists.

This year’s Riyadh Season also has a strong focus on sports, taking a page out of the country’s recent investments in the sector that have crossed $6.5 billion, according to media reports. The GEA head announced the establishment of the Legend Museum, which will showcase more than 30,000 rare artefacts of football greats, while also featuring a CR7 Experience, an exclusive museum designed around Cristiano Ronaldo’s life who now calls the kingdom his home since playing in the Saudi Pro League for the Riyadh-based club, Al Nassr.

The Riyadh Season Cup will also see the participation of Al Nassr and Al Hilal clubs along with another international club with a three-team league system.

The kingdom has been heavily investing in its entertainment landscape as part of its Vision 2030, with an August report by research and consulting firm Mordor Intelligence estimating the ‘Saudi Arabia Entertainment and Amusement Market’ size will reach $2.31 billion in 2023, and is expected to cross $3.80 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 10.44% during the forecast period.

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)