The concert goers might see a virtuoso performer, but the economists see the multiplier effect. Investment in the entertainment industry produces broader macro-economic benefits that will add to living standards across Saudi Arabia, and in the process improve quality of life in the Kingdom.
A $64 billion investment in the entertainment industry over the next 10 years will have excited youngsters, opera fans and fun-seekers everywhere, but it will also have the economists working out the financial implications.
The global value of the entertainment industry (including media) will be about $2.2 trillion by 2021, making it one of the biggest and fastest growing areas of the world economy.
We all want to spend our hard-earned cash on having a good time, it seems, but that spending in turn generates jobs and economic activity.
About 220,000 people will be employed in Saudi entertainment in 2018, up from 17,000 last year. Each one of those new employees will constitute a new economic profit center, in turn spending more money and generating more jobs. That is the multiplier.
For Saudi Arabia, there is a double effect. First, because entertainment has been such a low-key economic sector until now, it will be like creating a whole new area of economic activity.
Second, because so many Saudis need no longer go abroad to enjoy leisure facilities they cannot find at home, there will be billions more riyals in the domestic economy, further stimulating growth.
And it will all contribute to the mission to transform the Kingdom under the Vision 2030 strategy. That master plan seeks to move the country away from oil dependency, of course, but just as important, it aims to make it a more comfortable, tolerant and relaxed place to live. A wider range of entertainment options will certainly do that.