First Saudi opera house to open in Jeddah

In this file photo, musicians perform at the Royal Opera House in Muscat during a women's celebration in Oman. Saudi Arabia will soon have its own opera house, to be located in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. (Photo courtesy of the Royal Opera House in Muscat)
Updated 23 February 2018
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First Saudi opera house to open in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s first opera house is set to open in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Ahmed Al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), announced on Thursday.
The announcement was part of the launch of the 2018 entertainment calendar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, where Al-Khatib revealed a budget of $64 billion for the entertainment sector over the coming decade. More than 5,000 events in 56 cities in the Kingdom are planned for 2018.
Al-Khatib told Reuters last April of Saudi Arabia’s plan to open “a world-class opera house” as part of the Kingdom’s entertainment reforms.
The Saudi General Culture Authority will handle the establishment of the new opera house, Al-Khatib, who declined to give further information, told Arab News.
The General Culture Authority could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to Reuters, the opera house to be completed around 2022.
Speaking to Arab News, Sultan Al-Bazie, former president of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the announcement as a significant step toward enriching the Kingdom’s cultural scene and said it deserved “a warm welcome.”
Al-Bazie wondered, however, about the fate of the Royal Arts Complex and whether the opera house would be a substitute for it.
In 1869 the Egyptian Khedivial Opera House in Cairo became the first opera house in Africa and the Middle East. Designed by architects Pietro Avoscani (from Livorno) and Rossi, the opera house was built on the orders of Khedive Ismail to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.
In 2011, Oman opened the Royal Opera House in Muscat becoming the second Arab and first Gulf country to have an opera house. Other Gulf countries such as Dubai and Kuwait later opened opera houses.


High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Updated 8 min 30 sec ago
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High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

  • Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners

TOKYO: More than 300 government, investment and industry leaders on Monday took part in a high-level gathering aimed at further boosting business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed key figures from the public and private sectors to the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Tokyo.

Hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the conference focused on the creation of investment opportunities in strategic sectors of the Kingdom. Delegates also discussed key reforms currently underway to enable easier market access for foreign companies.

Speaking at the event, Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said: “Today’s forum is a testimony to the success of the strategic direction set by the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive private-sector involvement, both by partnering with public-sector entities.”

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “At SAGIA, we have been working on creating a more attractive and favorable business environment in Saudi Arabia, which is making it easier for foreign companies to access opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners. It is the Kingdom’s second-largest source of foreign capital and third-biggest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $39 billion.

JETRO president, Yasushi Akahoshi, said: “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 has made great progress since it was first announced. Under this strategic initiative, the number of cooperative projects between our two countries has nearly doubled, from 31 to 61, and represents a diverse range of sectors and stakeholders.”

Since 2016, the Saudi government has delivered 45 percent of more than 500 planned reforms, including the introduction of 100 percent foreign ownership rights, enhancing legal infrastructure and offering greater protection for shareholders.

As a result, the Kingdom has climbed international competitiveness and ease-of-doing-business rankings, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing by 127 percent in 2018 and the number of new companies entering Saudi Arabia rising by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019.