Saudi Seasons ‘will drive jobs, economy, tourism’, says General Entertainment Authority’s CEO

Amr Banaja, General Entertainment Authority's chief executive.
Updated 14 October 2019

Saudi Seasons ‘will drive jobs, economy, tourism’, says General Entertainment Authority’s CEO

  • Social return on financial investment to be evaluated, Entertainment Authority chief executive tells Arab News

RIYADH: The Saudi Seasons program of sports, cultural and entertainment events will contribute to a thriving economy and a vibrant society, one of the main driving forces behind the initiative told Arab News on Saturday.

Amr Banaja, chief executive of the General Entertainment Authority, said his team would be evaluating the “social return” on the financial investment involved in bringing a raft of world-class performers to the Kingdom.

Major entertainment events, he said, were “an example of attracting around 5 million visitors to our events, 1 million of them tourists from outside the Kingdom.

“We are working with over 80 local companies; under these companies there are so many subcontracted suppliers, we are creating over 25,000 jobs, we are also developing opportunities for over 25,000 volunteers.

“They will create not just people that are happy across the Kingdom, and tourists, but they will create real economic impact from job creation to GDP contribution. We will analyze all the results from the first year and continue to build on the success that we have had.”

Sustainability was a top priority for the authority, Banaja said. “In the long run, we would be contributing to the economy as well as job creation, and we’ve already seen it.

“In the first few years of building a new economy, a lot of efforts are required, from setting up the regulations and licensing process to igniting all the support for the private sector. 

“We have started to develop some real local companies as well as local talents, and in the near future we will be dependent on a thriving local industry.


Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

Updated 17 November 2019

Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

  • Waheed Jalal's voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations

RIYADH: Visitors to Riyadh’s first anime expo stopped by the first panel on Saturday unaware that they would be leaving the stage with memories renewed of their favorite voice actors of all time.

Waheed Jalal and Jihad Al-Atrashi will forever live on in the hearts of fans of “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island (Takarajima),” the two shows that introduced the Arab world to anime in the 1970s.

Jalal, whose voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations, expressed how delighted he was to be with the audience.

“I want to thank you and your Kingdom of generosity and culture,” he said.

Al-Atrash, who portrayed Duke Fleed, echoed his sentiments: “You are great people with great values, thank you to the people of the Kingdom that stand next to people of all nations.”

Jalal was touched by the audience’s love and warm welcome, “You guys are the reason we continued this far, without you it wouldn’t have been possible,” he told them.

“We’re persevering to this day because people loved these characters we portrayed so much, our other works pale in comparison,” he added.

Jalal said that the reason “Grendizer” remained with so many people is because of the values and morals depicted in the show, teaching generations to be loyal and loving to their nation and their people.

Artist and creator Ibrahim Al-Lami. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The voice acting pair talked about the importance of speaking in formal Arabic in these shows. Jalal said it’s because “you’re presenting to the entire Arab world.”

Local dialects would be difficult for others to understand, so we must all aspire to perfect our formal Arabic, added Jalal.

Before concluding the talk, a teaser was played of the first Saudi anime “Makkeen” by artist and creator, Ibrahim Al-Lami, who announced that 60 percent of the work was completed through local efforts.

“We’ll introduce a new work that is by our people, written by our people and voiced by our people,” he said to the audience.

The work will feature characters voiced by Jalal and Al-Atrash, who have become symbolic to the Arab anime world. “I told them, this work wouldn’t be complete without you two,” said Lami on his choice of voice actors. “We want these works to see the light of day. We need to provide the new generations with tales of our own,” added Al-Atrash when asked why he wanted to partake in the anime.