Regulating the cultural sector in Saudi Arabia
During the first week of January, regulations governing the Saudi Cultural Development Fund (SCDF) were approved. The rules have not yet been published as the relevant authorities are giving some final touches to the document.
In today’s article, we will highlight the key features of the SCDF, which aims to support the burgeoning cultural sector in the Kingdom. The fund will also govern the mechanisms in place to ensure the sustainable growth of the Saudi cultural sector in line with the Vision 2030 reform program.
The regulations, yet to be made public, bestow several powers upon the SCDF, including offering financing solutions to different art and cultural associations, the supporting services sector and the infrastructure technologies for these institutions. The fund can also accept mortgages and other guarantees to finance cultural projects.
The fund seeks to encourage investment in the cultural sector. For this purpose, it has been authorized to forge public and private partnerships to make the most of the Kingdom’s true potential.
Efforts are underway to promote the local art and culture scene to boost its contribution to the gross domestic product by approximately SR4.6 billion ($1.2 billion) annually.
However, we look forward to further clarification on some of the fund’s powers, such as providing nonfinancial services to natural or legal persons working in various cultural fields.
We are optimistic that the SCDF, with a capital of SR500 million, will help boost the local cultural sector and highlight the Kingdom’s rich heritage and culture in the best way possible. We hope that the fund will give a new impetus to the efforts of the government in promoting local talent and streamlining the sector along modern lines without losing touch with our national heritage.
In addition to the SCDF, we also look forward to formulating a strong legal framework to govern the cultural sector.
There is a need to set rules and regulations that can oversee cultural institutions in order to maintain necessary checks and balances. Effective control is also required to ensure the authenticity of historical data related to heritage and culture.
The establishment of the fund is a step in the right direction and with a proper mechanism in place, the cultural sector in the Kingdom will flourish and help create job opportunities for young Saudi men and women and promote Saudi culture and heritage around the globe in an effective manner.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif