Saudi entertainment, amusement sector to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030

Saudi entertainment, amusement sector to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030
One of the biggest entertainment investments in the Kingdom is the Qiddiya project. Announced in 2017, work at the site began in April the following year. (Photo/Qiddiya)
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Updated 07 June 2021

Saudi entertainment, amusement sector to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030

Saudi entertainment, amusement sector to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030
  • Entertainment is a key element of the cultural goals set out as part of Vision 2030

RIYADH: The Saudi entertainment and amusement sector is forecast to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030 and grow by a massive 47.65 percent per year, according to a new industry report.

The US-based Research and Markets study said that the growth compares with just $23.77 million in 2020.

“The entertainment industry of Saudi Arabia is growing massively. Saudi Arabia has been putting its best effort to build a unique and world-class entertainment hub that includes innovative rides, cultural or historical attractions, and mega sporting events,” the report said.

The government has played a leading role in the change, establishing the General Authority for Entertainment (GAE) in 2016.

One of the biggest entertainment investments in the Kingdom is the Qiddiya project. Announced in 2017, work at the site — located just a 40-minute drive from the capital — began in April the following year.

The city — which will cover more than 366 square kilometers of land — will host a Formula One racing track, a Six Flags theme park, a water park, sports facilities including football stadiums and development infrastructure for young Saudi athletes, and an extensive range of cultural, creative and artistic activities.

Work started in January on the design for Falcon’s Flight, the record-breaking roller coaster set to be the flagship attraction at the theme park, which is scheduled to open in 2023 and will feature 28 rides and attractions across six themed lands.

In February, golf legend Jack Nicklaus also announced that he was designing a course at Qiddiya, marking his first golf design project in the Kingdom.

“Qiddiya, a giga-project whose vision stems from the overarching Saudi Vision 2030, is destined to become the capital of Entertainment, Sports and the Arts,” Phillipe Gas, CEO of Qiddiya, told Arab News.

“It will be a disruptive destination recognized on the world stage as the home of the most innovative and immersive experiences, integrated on a scale never been seen before. It will be a celebration of life – a place where families, friends and couples spend quality time together and create unforgettable memories.

While events, cinemas and other attractions were closed as part of anti-coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic, May 18 saw the return of many entertainment businesses, with some limitations and social distancing policies in place.

Last month, GAE chairman Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh announced the results of the “Ideas for Entertainment” initiative. From the more than 12,000 proposals submitted to the project, the top 20 ideas were selected.

The top submission was “The Grove,” which is described as “a rich experience encompassing an array of activities such as theatrical and musical performances, hiking expeditions and more.”

Entertainment is a key element of the cultural goals set out as part of Vision 2030, which aims to increase household expenditure in the sector from 2.9 percent to 6 percent by the end of the decade.

One of the big breakthroughs came in April 2018, when Saudi Arabia’s 35-year ban on cinemas was lifted. As a result, some of the world’s biggest cinema operators have moved into the Kingdom.

In December 2020, AMC Entertainment Holdings, the world’s largest movie exhibition company, opened a sixth movie theater in Saudi Arabia as part of its plans to expand to 50 locations by 2024.

AMC also established the Saudi Cinema Co., a joint venture with Saudi Entertainment Ventures, an entity set up by the Public Investment Fund to become the state investment and development arm for the entertainment sector.

UAE-based chain VOX Cinemas also plans to build 600 screens across the Kingdom by 2023 as part of a SR2 billion ($533 million) investment.

Home-grown cinema brands have also thrived, with MUVI Cinemas in April announcing a SR820 million expansion plan for 2021. The company plans to grow to 307 screens nationwide over the next 12 months, launching 23 new sites in eight key Saudi regions.


Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
Updated 26 sec ago

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
  • Saudi mining company also announced completion of pre-operational stage on $900m ammonia plant

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) has awarded a new $880 million contract at its Mansourah-Massarah gold mines, marking the company’s largest-ever investment in the gold sector.

The agreement was signed for Jac Rijk Al-Rushaid Contracting and Services Company to provide operational mining services at the gold mines. The range of services will include drilling, scaling, loading, hauling, re-handling, ore control, dewatering, crusher feed, and all related production activities at the mines.

It is forecast that the Mansourah-Massarah site will reach full production capacity by 2023 and will represent one-quarter of Ma’aden’s goal to produce 1 million ounces of gold per year by 2025.

The Mansourah-Massarah site is one of six mines in Ma’aden’s portfolio and is part of the company’s bid to boost local production. Gold currently accounts for around 20 percent of Ma’aden’s revenues.

Ma’aden on Sunday also announced the completion of the pre-operational stage at its third ammonia plant in Ras Al-Khair Industrial City. The $900 million project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will start operations in the first quarter of 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ammonia plant is the first project as part of Ma’aden’s $6.4 billion Phosphate 3 expansion plan, which aims to add 3 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizer production capacity to Ma’aden’s portfolio. This will bring Ma’aden’s total production capacity of more than 9 million tonnes and make it one of the top three global phosphate fertilizer producers in the world.

Ma’aden CEO Abdul Aziz Al-Harbi said in a press statement: “This is a tremendous milestone for our phosphate portfolio. The ammonia plant expansion will add over 1 million tonnes of ammonia production to reach 3.3 million tonnes, making Ma’aden one of the largest ammonia producers east of the Suez Canal.”

Ma’aden in April reported a net profit after zakat and tax of SR 761.2 million ($202.99 million) in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a net loss of SR 353.3 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy has estimated its untapped mineral resources to be worth about SR 5 trillion. Under Vision 2030, the government is aiming to triple the mining and metals sector’s contribution to gross domestic product and create 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030.

“Saudi Arabia has vast under-explored territories compared with other world-class mining countries. Ma’aden’s goal is to capitalize on that to become one of the world’s top mining companies, and we are making great strides in achieving this goal,” Mosaed Al-Ohali, former CEO of Ma’aden, told Arab News in October 2020.

“The increase in exploration spending is focused on brownfield drilling, assessment of potential greenfield targets and continued drilling at many prospective locations to maintain healthy ore reserves. We are working on two more gold mines that we expect to bring on stream around the middle of the decade,” he added.

On Friday, gold prices slipped slightly, down 1.2 percent to $1,875.31 per ounce, while US gold futures were 0.9 percent lower at $1,879.6.


Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
Updated 7 min 21 sec ago

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  • Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s currency crashed past a milestone on Sunday reaching a new low against the dollar, as the country’s financial meltdown and political deadlock linger.
Market dealers said the Lebanese pound was trading at around 15,150 to the dollar, losing around 90 percent of what it was worth in late 2019, when Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis erupted.
Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability. The World Bank has called it one of the deepest depressions of modern history.
The last time the pound hit a low of 15,000 in March protesters took to the streets across Lebanon for over a week, blocking roads by burning tires.
Foreign reserves, used to fund a subsidy program for basic goods including fuel, medicine and wheat, are running out and shortages have been worsening across the board in recent weeks.
Some hospitals are ruling out elective procedures and only performing emergency surgeries to ration what is left of medical supplies. Most pharmacies staged a two day strike this week as medications run out and hours long car queues for gasoline have frustrated motorists causing squabbles.
The financial collapse is taking place against a backdrop of fractious politicians bickering over cabinet formation.
Prime Minister-designate Salad Al-Hariri has been at loggerheads with President Michel Aon over naming ministers since his designation in October. The former government has continued in a caretaker capacity after having resigned in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast.
Depositors, locked out of their dollar accounts since last year, have been promised some access starting July, with each customer getting $400 in cash and an equivalent in Lebanese pounds at a rate close to market value.
But the International Monetary Fund on Thursday criticized Lebanon’s proposal for dollar deposit withdrawals and a capital control law yet to be approved by parliament saying both measures would only be meaningful as part of broader reforms.


Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
Updated 13 June 2021

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
  • The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months

DUBAI: The Middle East’s regional GDP will grow by 2.4 percent this year according to a report commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICEAW).
It represents a similar rate to the region’s average growth trajectory in the last decade, as countries double down on their pandemic exit strategies.
The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months on the back of eased COVID-19-related restrictions and an energetic vaccine campaign.
Strong Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) readings indicate a positive outlook throughout the year, the report said.
This shows a marked improvement from the 4.4 percent economic contraction felt across the region last year.
The region can particularly benefit from the expected surge of travel demand once the rest of the world opens up, the report noted, with major global events set to happen in Dubai and Qatar.
“The outlook for most Middle Eastern economies looks positive this quarter, but keeping coronavirus levels low will be essential to ensure economies can return to growth,” the company’s regional director, Michael Armstrong, said.
He highlighted the need to continue diversification strategies to reduce reliance in the oil industry, which has seen gradual recovery from its performance in 2020.
“The rise in the oil price has boosted revenue prospects for GCC producers,” ICAEW Economic Adviser Scott Livermore, said.
“Higher oil revenue gives governments more scope to support post-pandemic recoveries without undermining efforts aimed at improving medium-term fiscal sustainability,” he added.


Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering
Updated 13 June 2021

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering
  • The Quebec-based company said it would partner with Nexus Learn Arabic to develop the course
  • The pair want to finish the curriculum by 2022

DUBAI: Canadian education technology company Robotel is teaming up with a UK-based startup to develop an extensive Arabic language digital curriculum.
The Quebec-based company said it would partner with Nexus Learn Arabic to develop the course, as it expands its offerings to its client schools.
“We feel it is important to help bridge the cultural gap between North America, Europe and the Arabic culture, of which the language is a rich testimonial,” Yanick Demers, the company’s CEO said in a statement.
He added Robotel’s client schools have been asking for an Arabic curriculum. The company currently offers curricula in English, German, and Spanish.
The aim is to create a curriculum that will be the “go to” for schools in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and North America, Nexus Learn Arabic CEO Jamal Al-Tamimi said.
“We are currently entertaining opportunities for financing and strategic partnerships to help us achieve the goal of bringing best-in-class Arabic curriculum to schools,” he added.
The pair want to finish the curriculum by 2022.


Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off
Updated 13 June 2021

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off
  • It follows a deal struck in 2019 and worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million) to develop and operate smart car parks in Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar

RIYADH: Batic Investment and Logistics Company said that its smart parking project in Dammam would start generating revenue from July 1.
It follows a deal struck in 2019 and worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million) to develop and operate smart car parks in Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar for 25 years.
It is part of a broader push to develop so-called smart cities in the Kingdom with major investments being channeled into technology aimed at improving the efficiency of municipal services.