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.


Kingdom will be one of the very best countries for tourism, says Prince Sultan

Updated 23 sec ago
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Kingdom will be one of the very best countries for tourism, says Prince Sultan

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will be one of the most attractive countries for tourism because of its location, its unique tourist and historic elements and its hospitable and welcoming people, said Prince Sultan bin Salman.
Prince Sultan, who is president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told the annual conference of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires that the efforts of the SCTH and its partners in localizing tourist jobs resulted in an increase in the number of direct jobs in the tourism sector from 936,000 in 2016 to 993,000 by the end of 2017. The number of job opportunities is expected to increase to 1.2 million by the year 2020.
He said the contributions of tourism to the national GDP amounted to 3.6 percent, up to 4.9 percent of the national non-oil output, and the revenues of the tourism sector reached SR97.5 billion ($26 billion). Direct jobs in the tourism sector exceeded 994,000, and the proportion of Saudi citizens currently employed in the sector is about 28 percent.
The Saudi government has allocated SR5 billion to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ program, which takes care of the cultural heritage of the Kingdom.
The program includes the establishment of 18 museums in the Kingdom’s regions, the creation of 80 heritage sites and opening them to visitors throughout the Kingdom, the restoration and preparation of 18 villages and traditional towns to receive visitors, and hosting economic and local hospitality activities operated by local people, as well as opening 17 centers for artisans that serve as incubators for the development of their businesses, factories for their production, and outlets for sale.
Prince Sultan also noted that after the SCTH completed the registration of the first four sites on the World Heritage List (Madain Saleh, Al-Tarif district in Jeddah, historic Jeddah, rock inscriptions in Jubba and Shuweis in Hail), it has been working with its partners to complete the registration files of six additional sites. Also, 20 additional important Islamic sites are being rehabilitated and prepared in Makkah and Madinah.
The conference was attended by more than 1,200 prominent investors and key corporate officials in tourism.
The WTTC is the largest gathering of investors and private sector professionals working in tourism around the world.