RIYADH: The second edition of the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) expo began in Riyadh on Monday afternoon, with vendors from around the world showcasing the latest and greatest advances in the global entertainment sector.
The expo, organized by DMG Events, was first held in April 2019 in Jeddah. It was so successful that interest in the event has almost doubled in size this year. This year, the expo is being held from Feb. 3-5 at the Riyadh International Convention Exhibition Center.
Saudi Arabia’s plan to invest $64 billion in the development of the entertainment industry over the next decade as part of Vision 2030 has energized the sector, and the Kingdom’s planned social and economic reform programs have begun in earnest.
Nathan Waugh, a portfolio director at DMG Events, spoke to Arab News about the company’s excitement over the recent changes in Saudi Arabia and the future prospects they could bring.
“The changes that have happened in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks and months have been amazing. I came to Riyadh two weeks ago, after having been away for six months or so. Since then I’ve been to places like Riyadh Front. What a wonderful place that is! It really is just lovely,” he said.
The changes that have happened in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks and months have been amazing.
He also spoke about the importance of the expo and what it would mean for the country’s burgeoning industry.
“This show is relevant now because there’s such a focus on the entertainment industry and the entertainment sector, and it’s fantastic to be able to bring these international companies and exhibitors here at a time when Saudi Arabia is really looking to increase the offering to their citizens in the entertainment and amusement sector,” he said.
Exhibitors from 23 countries are presenting all manner of entertainment and theme park services, from small businesses looking for playground equipment and toddler rides to bigger companies looking for waterparks, beach expansions and theme park rollercoasters. Carnival rides, fairground games and giant inflatable mascots were all on display at the expo, with some attractions available for people to try out.
There is also an area reserved for panels being held throughout the event, where leaders in the industry can share their insights and divulge more about the future of entertainment in Saudi Arabia.
Abdulmohsen Al-Mutlaq, owner of an entertainment center, Fun Time Pizza, is considered by many to be a pioneer of the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia. He told Arab News that he was delighted with the recent changes in the country’s attitude toward entertainment.
“Fun Time Pizza is almost 24 years old now. During all that time, I have never seen such developments in the entertainment sector as we’re seeing right now. The country has opened up since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman started changing things. He took the entire industry and turned it on its head, so that now our entertainment can compete with that of any other country in the world,” he said.
International exhibitors such as Embed, a company that produces colorful and stylish wristbands for cashless payments, also expressed excitement at the possibilities of Saudi’s entertainment future.
Embed CEO Renee Walsh, and Rosa Tahmaseb, the managing director, spoke about what companies such as theirs could provide the industry in Saudi with.
“We’ve been involved with Saudi Arabia since about 2010, however, the recent leisure boom has opened a lot of doors for us. We’re meeting a lot of prospects who are interested in our technology. Although we do sort of have a history in Saudi Arabia, we’re finding that with the cutting-edge technology we’re presenting, companies are very keen to get onboard and be part of that future,” Tahmaseb said.
“What we’re seeing is a trend toward the guest experience and making sure that they’re immersed in the entertainment, and that requires technology to enable that, which is essentially what we do. And our products have been well-received so far. It’s really important that we’re bringing that level of guest experience to consumers, and we’re really seeing Saudi customers embrace that, which is exciting for us,” Walsh said.
The expo also proved that there are opportunities opening up in the country for Saudi youth. Basil Abdullah, a game operator at HB Leisure, spoke about the opportunities that he had experienced since branching out of the traditional workforce.
“I’ve been with HB Leisure for two months now, and it’s been amazing so far. We’ve been able to gain so much experience with projects like Winter Wonderland, which has been very successful so far. It’s a really fun and easygoing job to have, and easy to pick up too,” he said.
The expo is open to the public with free onsite registration until Feb. 5, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.