Saudi Arabia was poised to become a key Middle East entertainment hub, one of the Kingdom’s top business leaders has claimed.
Majed Al-Hokair, chief executive officer of Al Hokair Group, made his prediction at Sunday’s opening of the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Summit and Expo and Saudi Light and Sound Expo, in Riyadh.
The three-day event, being attended by industry experts, investors, and entertainment professionals from around the world, is showcasing the latest developments in the sector and future plans.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Al-Hokair said: “I am delighted to participate in the opening of the fifth SEA Expo, which has reached an advanced stage and has become competitive with exhibitions both in the region and globally through the multiplicity and diversity of participants and the involvement of digital technology in entertainment.
“We expect a great number of specialists and others to be among the visitors, with rich sessions in all disciplines, and we hope that the exhibition will contribute to creating a shift in the entertainment industry in the Kingdom.”
Held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, the gathering will place the international spotlight on the country’s flourishing entertainment industry.
Sarkis Kahwajian, event director for the SEA Expo, part of DMG Events, said: “The SEA Expo is one of the largest gatherings in the entertainment industry, and so far, we have welcomed hundreds of local and international brands from over 40 countries who have discussed their latest innovative products and services and tackled some of the industry’s most pressing challenges at our summit.
“These challenges include how to shape the future of a vibrant society through entertainment, knowing the value of investing in human capital, and understanding how sports, heritage, and culture can magnify the entertainment and leisure sector on a global scale.”
A panel discussion with Andy Such, executive director of operations, at Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), and Mawlid Benmansour, Wibit Sports’ vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region, looked at how to expand entertainment, sports, heritage, and culture tourism for Saudis and foreign visitors.
Experts at the summit highlighted how the entertainment industry would play a vital role in the growing Saudi economy.
The Kingdom plans to invest $64 billion in the entertainment and leisure market by 2030 with experts forecasting the industry to grow by more than 47 percent a year to a value of $1.17 billion by the end of the decade.
Summit delegates will discuss issues such as the hospitality sector, how to captivate audiences and drive tourism, empowering women in the entertainment and amusement industry, e-sports, and corporate investment and strategic partnerships in the global tourism sector.
With hundreds of international and local brands from more than 40 countries, the SEA Expo will act as a platform, showcasing new and innovative products from its 350 exhibitors.
The SLS Expo will reveal the latest event technology, professional lighting concepts, audiovisual and audio innovations, and strategies for growth.
Mohammed Faisal, event manager for DMG Events, said: “In line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals to grow the entertainment and leisure industry, the SLS Expo 2023 has ramped up efforts to reveal the current entertainment, cultural, and leisure landscape and propel the industry forward through its exhibition and summit.
“Prolight and sound are industry mainstays for creating memorable events and experiences, and with an emphasis on live events of the future, these tools have the power to really change the outcome of the entertainment industry.
“And with the hundreds of exhibitors displaying the newest AV, professional lighting and sound technologies, the stage is set for the future of this industry,” he added.
Saudi talent and the performing arts took center stage at SLS discussions with Tahani Alghureiby, CEO at NEO Theatro Productions, and Tom-Naylor Davis, director and partner at Theatre Projects Consultants, who considered the development and challenges of performance arts in the Kingdom.
Mark Reeves, head of entertainment and events, and Andrew Campbell, director of creative production, at Six Flags Qiddiya addressed summit delegates on the importance of storytelling and narrative development for prolight and sound shows.
The expo will also highlight the importance of sustainability and environmental protection.