Saudi Arabia, a religious, traditional and cultural state, will this year play host to more than 5,000 live entertainment events including live music performances, theatre shows, musicals, circus performances, community festivals and many other entertainment gigs; this according to the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment (GEA).
The latest announcement comes as the reclusive kingdom continues to focus on growing its live entertainment sector. The kingdom is preparing to become a central and active place for entertainment with gigs lined up for celebrated artists from all over the world.
Under the kingdom’s wide ranging Vision 2030, the Sunni theocracy is seeking to reduce its dependence on oil by developing its service sector, including a domestic entertainment market.
The General Authority for Entertainment (GEA), created by royal decree in May 2016, is spearheading the entertainment drive. The body is charged with bringing interesting shows to the kingdom including Cirque du Soleil and the Lion King musical.
The authority began by organizing 52 events in 2016. In 2017, that number grew to more than 2,200 events attended by 8.2 million people.
In March of 2017, the kingdom’s capital Riyadh hosted its first concert since 1988. Music is generally considered sinful (haram) by Saudi religious authorities. Therefore, the new dispensation marks a major shift in the conservative kingdom.
Reports also suggests that the Saudi government set up a US$2.7 billion fund last year aimed at assisting event promoters with growing the local entertainment industry.
GEA chairman Ahmad Al Khatib disclosed that their purpose is to build a world class entertainment industry that will put the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and entertainment map. He noted the GEA’s pride as the drivers of transformation in the kingdom.
Tamar Hosny, an Egyptian singer is slated to kick start the first musical event this year in Jeddah on March 30th.