Have you booked your tickets yet?
Recently, two of my friends, one from Boston and another from London, approached me to secure them tickets for the world heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Joshua and champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in December. Of interest here is the venue: It will be hosted in Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh, which is a contrast to the venue of their first fight, Madison Square Garden.
Last February, a European Tour golf event was organized for the first time by the Saudi Golf Federation that was won by former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Also, the world’s most exhausting motorsports race, the Dakar Rally, will take place in the Kingdom next year. As a board member of the Saudi Polo Federation and the chairman of BMG Foundation, which organized more than 20 international polo cups in the UK, I hope we will be able to organize the first international polo cup in Diriyah next year.
In line with one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in creating a vibrant society, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has been created to provide entertainment options to locals and tourists from all over the world. It also aims to contribute in improving and enriching the lifestyle and social cohesion among the community in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials have indicated that the entertainment sector is to capture up to a quarter of the $20 billion currently spent overseas every year by Saudis seeking entertainment. The Government aims to increase the entertainment sector contribution in the gross domestic product (GDP) from 3 percent to 6 percent. Last year, GEA said infrastructure investments over the next decade would reach $64 billion.
To take advantage of this promising sector, startups by young entrepreneurs have been created while leading Saudi companies branch out into the entertainment business by setting up entities under their family office umbrella. Others are implementing growth plans with their existing entertainment businesses to capitalize on these opportunities.
The Saudi Virgin Mega Store, one of the leading retailers in the country, has appointed BMG Financial Group to advise them on the best financial engineering options to support their strategic expansion plans in the country. Since entertainment is in their DNA, they took the leading role in managing the ticketing business of the highly successful Jeddah summer festival and will be participating in the crowded entertainment calendar for the remaining of the year.
In my opinion, entertainment events and projects, such as the Qiddiya project which aims to be the largest entertainment city in the world, will create immense investment opportunities for local and international investors. Furthermore, it will diversify the contribution to the economy and reduce dependence on the oil sector. These events and projects will have a significant impact on changing the culture of society and making it more open to the world and integrating with different cultures.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.