RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is fast becoming one of the leading entertainment hubs in the region, with the Kingdom hosting over 120 million people at events in the last four years, according to the chairman of the General Entertainment Authority.
Turki Al-Sheikh acknowledged that the backing received from the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman for this crucial sector has resulted in GEA receiving numerous Guinness World Records certificates.
He added that this paved the way for a significant number of employment opportunities in the Kingdom’s entertainment sector.
This comes as the authority issued 11,136 licenses for a range of entertainment and supporting events following the launch of the new licensing system in August 2019, reported the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia’s new online system was created to simplify the process of applying for entertainment licenses.
“The purpose of offering this range of licenses is to encourage investment in the entertainment sector, which is a vital and promising sector,” Sultan Al-Fakeer, the GEA’s chief operations officer said at the time of the launch.
He added that the novel platform offers a clear and simple system through which to apply for the licenses.
The permits are part of the efforts the Kingdom is making to stimulate investment in the entertainment sector and enhance economic activity to help achieve the strategic objectives of Vision 2030.
The authority also put together the second edition of the International Qur’an and Adhan Competition — the largest of its kind in the world — during that period, stated Al-Sheikh.
The event saw over 50,000 contestants, from 165 countries of the world, registering to participate in the competition when registration was opened in January this year.
The GEA has provided prizes worth a total of SR12 million ($3.19 million), the largest prize money for such a competition globally.
The chairman further noted that the total activities, taking in events, entertainment shows and live shows in restaurants and cafes, was around 8,732 from 2019 to the first quarter of 2023. As for the number of event days, they exceeded 76,000 with more than 1,381 concerts.
He also added that a total of 470 entertainment destinations have been licensed in 42 cities and governorates around the country. This is in addition to around 1,402 restaurants with at least 3,728 permits that have been licensed in 50 cities and governorates in Saudi Arabia.
Also, during that period, around 3,738 institutions regarding recreational and support activities have been issued licenses, 82 plays were held with 350 theatrical performances, and over 6,610 talented performers were permitted to take part in events.