Saudi to launch initiative to improve country’s lifestyle

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RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia plans to spend 50 billion riyals ($13.33 billion) by 2020 on an initiative to promote entertainment, health, sports and education as part of a modernizing drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

At an event in Riyadh on Thursday, Ahmed al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), said the program, called Quality of Life, should generate 300,000 jobs by 2020, most of which will come under the General Sports Authority.

“The initiatives will cost a total of 50 billion riyals, and government spending will be around 60 percent, with 40 percent from the private sector,” Khatib told Reuters.

“The entire benefit from this big spending will be for the private sector, and this supports the 2030 Vision that strengthens the role of the private sector.”

The kingdom has undergone many changes in recent months, holding concerts and opening cinemas. The moves in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom are hailed as proof of progress spearheaded by Prince Mohammed, who has appealed to the young since he ascended to power.

Saudi citizens have no vote and falling oil income means economic horizons may contract in coming years. As a result, improving the quality of life is seen as important for ensuring political stability.

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