The announcement by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) that an Opera House is to open in Jeddah is another example of the Kingdom’s robust path toward attracting various art forms and entertainment from around the world. The GEA will invest $64 billion in the Kingdom’s entertainment sector over the next 10 years as part of Saudi Vision 2030.
With investment coming from both government and private sectors, public-private partnerships will be an important driver of the GEA’s success in the coming years. Other countries around the world will see the opportunity to use entertainment as a means of diplomacy, but also as a tool to promote cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication.
The building blocks of new entertainment facilities and outlets for knowledge and fun are a paramount requirement for the Kingdom’s transformation. High-profile events help to bring world-class entertainment from music to sports to cinema, with mixed-gender audiences. These are positive, necessary steps that provide cultural context for Saudi Arabia’s growth on the world stage.
Bringing entertainment from abroad can also be the spark that helps to promote creativity. As the Kingdom moves toward a “fourth industrial revolution” future, entertainment and the arts create the environment in which to learn more. Bringing entertainment to the Kingdom is a social responsibility that helps to promote the concepts of openness and exploration in the Saudi psyche, in order to spark innovation in thinking. Entertainment reinforces the idea that the arts help to open the intuitive mind.
The GEA is one of the entities supporting the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program as part of Vision 2030. With more than 5,000 events planned in 2018, the Kingdom is well on its way to unlocking the country’s intellectual potential — and also just plain fun.
• Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, D.C. He is a former RAND Corporation Senior Political Scientist who lived in the UAE for 10 years, focusing on security issues. Twitter: @tkarasik