King Abdullah Economic City to exploit entertainment boom in Saudi Arabia: Chief Fahd Al-Rasheed

King Abdullah Economic City to exploit entertainment boom in Saudi Arabia: Chief Fahd Al-Rasheed. (Ali Khamg)
Updated 12 April 2018
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King Abdullah Economic City to exploit entertainment boom in Saudi Arabia: Chief Fahd Al-Rasheed

  • Social and cultural aspects of the changes underway in Saudi Arabia were as significant as the economic transformation: Al-Rasheed
  • Music and other entertainment events had been behind the recent boom in visitors to KAEC

The King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), the multibillion-dollar development on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, intends to exploit the opportunities presented by the Kingdom’s booming entertainment sector, the city’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the opening session of the Top CEO 2018 forum, Fahd Al-Rasheed said the social and cultural aspects of the changes underway in Saudi Arabia were as significant as the economic transformation, and that the KAEC could expect big commercial and financial benefits from the shift toward leisure and entertainment.

“All round the world, entertainment creates big economic benefits. KAEC wants to take part in that,” he said, speaking at the Bay La Sun Hotel resort-based event, adding that 10 million square meters of the KAEC area had recently been designated as land for entertainment development.

“We have one of the top maritime ports in the world, we have big oil and gas facilities, but you have to give people what they want,” he said.

Al-Rasheed, who has been the CEO of KAEC since it was launched in 2005, said that music and other entertainment events had been behind the recent boom in visitors to the 67 square mile development an hour’s drive outside Jeddah.

In 2015, there were just 10,000 visitors, but in 2017 the figure leaped to 370,000 for ticketed events, lured by new hotel and marina facilities as well as music concerts.

KAEC is planned as an industrial, commercial and residential development beside a new port on the Red Sea, but leisure and cultural aspects have been increasingly emphasized as part of the Kingdom’s commitment to social development under the Vision 2030 plan.

Al-Rasheed said entertainment was a significant factor in the economies of countries such as Britain, South Korea and China, but especially in the US, where 44.5 percent of total employment is related to the entertainment business, which generated $700 billion of value to America’s gross domestic product.

He also pointed out that many companies in entertainment were small-to-medium enterprises, which are a focus of the Saudi economic transformation, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship.

Al-Rasheed said big developments such as Neom, the $500-billion giga-project at the northern end of the Red Sea, were needed to accommodate the booming Saudi population.


Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

  • Cabinet OKs air transport pact with Indonesia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet met to discuss a series of national and global developments on Tuesday, in a session chaired by King Salman.

At the forefront of the agenda was the escalation in tensions between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border, and the continuing encroachment on Palestinian land by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The Cabinet responded by demanding that the UN Security Council intervene. King Salman also relayed to ministers the outcome of his talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which covered many regional issues.

The minister of media, Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabanah, announced that after reviewing proposals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a decision from the Shoura Council, a memorandum of understanding between the government and the Republic of Korea on granting visit visas had been agreed upon.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of the air agreement on regular air transport between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

The Cabinet, meanwhile, praised the progress of the 2025 Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Program, aimed at enhancing farming techniques by promoting sustainable water and renewable energy sources.

They also discussed the framework in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 for building a sustainable renewable energy sector, reiterating aims to lead global renewable energy developments over the next decade, and create projects such as the wind-powered plant at Dumat Al-Jandal, as part of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

In a statement, though, Al-Shabanah said: “The Cabinet discussed the announcement made by the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources about the Kingdom’s oil and gas reserves, which highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabia as a secure source of oil supplies in the long term.”

He added, in closing, the Cabinet’s praise for the efforts of Saudi security forces in the tracking and arrest of seven people in Qatif, which foiled a planned terrorist attack.