|20 February, 2020

These 6 entertainment hubs will help Saudi diversify its economy

Music, sports and social events are likely to play a key role in expanding the kingdom's wider entertainment

Streets in illuminated cityscape, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Streets in illuminated cityscape, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is counting on sectors such as entertainment and tourism to diversify its GDP, which is expected to grow 6.5 per cent this year.

Music, sports and social events are likely to play a key role in expanding the kingdom’s wider entertainment offering that aims to capitalise into the strong demand for entertainment experience among the Saudi population, CBRE said in its latest report titled: ‘Saudi Arabia Entertainment: The Game Changer 2020’.

The kingdom’s GDP is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5 per cent between 2019 and 2024, to reach just above SAR 4.0 trillion (USD1.06 trillion) by the end of the forecast period, the report said.

Although Saudi Arabia’s oil industry has remained the largest contributor to GDP, the report also shows the big impact of the tourism sector on the Kingdom’s overall economic growth. Supported by visa reforms, the 59 million trips in 2019 are expected to increase to 100 million tourist trips by 2024, it said.

Also, 447 heritage sites are expected to be completed by the end of 2020, up from 241 sites in 2017, highlighting the country’s commitment to enhancing its tourism profile, said the report.

The Kingdom has committed to develop entertainment-led projects over the period of next 10-15 years to boost domestic and international tourism. Some of the key projects under development that are set to define the Saudi entertainment industry and lifestyle are:

Qiddiya Entertainment City – Kingdom’s Capital of Entertainment

Qiddiya, multi-billion dollar entertainment resort, launching ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Once completed in 2030, the entertainment centre in the outskirts of Riyadh, is expected to welcome 17 million visitors every year, adding SR 17 billion to GDP and creating 57,000 jobs.

The phase 1 of the mixed-use entertainment-led development will be completed in 2023. The 100 sq km project will offer various customised experiences under themes such as parks and attractions, sports and wellness, and motion and mobility. Some of the highlights of the project would be water parks, motor sports, golf course, hotels and resorts.

The Red Sea Project – Unforgettable luxury with an extraordinary destination

Rendering of the planned international airport for The Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia

It's 90-island archipelago on the coast of the Red Sea between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh. With 200 km of coastline, the project is roughly the size of Belgium and stretches across 28,000 sq km. The Red Sea Project aims to become a world-class tourism destination, offering various inland and off-land hospitality options, including a dedicated airport.

The phase 1 of the project will be completed in Q4 2022, and the entire project will be completed in 2030. The Red Sea Project set to receive one million visitors annually and is expected to add SR22 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP and 70,000 jobs. The highlights include yacht marina, scuba diving, premium retail and watersport activities.

Amaala – The riviera of the Middle East

Public Investment Fund unveils Amaala, a new global leading destination for wellness tourism

With phase 1 to be completed by the end of this year, the 100 percent solar-powered luxury resort Amaala will be completed by 2028. Derived from the Arabic word for hope, Amaala is 800 km north of Jeddah and will feature three masterplans – Triple Bay, The Island, and The Coastal Development – respectively centred on the themes of wellness and sports, luxury art residences and sea, sun and lifestyle.

Along with a dedicated airport, art park, equestrian club, golf course and marine life museum, the project is expected to create 22,000 jobs.

Al Ula – Kingdom’s hidden natural wonder

Qasr Al-Farid rock tomb in Mada'in Saleh Saudi Arabia

Located 300 km north of Madinah, this project is envisaged to be Kingdom’s main cultural eco-tourism destination, leveraging on key historical and cultural assets, such as Mada’in Saleh, the second largest Nabatean heritage site after Jordan’s Petra and Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO site.

With 23,000 archaeological sites, Al Ula is expected to offer various recreational activities including sightseeing, hiking, camping and other desert-friendly sports and festivals.

To be fully completed between 2030 and 2035, the first phase will be finished in 2023, and the project will welcome two million annual visitors contributing SR120 billion to GDP and creating 35,000 jobs.

King Salman Park – The Green Heart of Riyadh

With a total area of 13 million sqm, the Park aims to be the world’s biggest city park and about four times the size of Central Park in New York. The park is expected to offer various components related to environment, culture, art and sports.

To ensure connectivity, the park will be linked to main highways and metro lines. Though the project will be completed in 2024-2025, the phase one will be completed by the end of 2020. The park will include a sky diving centre along with art museums and academies. The Park will create about 57,000 jobs.

Riyadh Sports Boulevard

The Sports Boulevard or Al-Masar Al-Riyadi, aims to enhance quality of life and support the objective of placing Riyadh within the world’s top 100 livable cities. Featuring 120,000 new trees, the project is expected to offer various sports and reactional facilities across eight multi-themed zones. The project is open for both domestic and foreign investors.

Set to complete in 2027, the project will create 70,000 jobs, and will include facilities such as tennis courts, zoo, cycling and horse-riding tracks.

(Writing by Atique Naqvi, editing by Seban Scaria).


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© ZAWYA 2020

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