EntertainmentSaudi Arabia

Expats Flock to Saudi as Thriving Entertainment Scene, Tourism Boom Boost Quality of Life

Saudi Arabia’s recent efforts to bolster its entertainment scene have significantly improved the quality of life for residents, potentially attracting more expatriates who were previously hesitant to relocate due to a perceived lack of lifestyle options, an expert told sources.

“It is essential to offer world-class lifestyle experiences that cater to different groups, whether it’s art lovers with Riyadh Biennale, HNW [High Net Worth] tourists in AlUla or beach clubs in Jeddah,” said Christophe Castagnéra, Head of Strategy at event management firm Imagination Middle East.

“The speed and breadth of development is staggering and there is no doubt that there will be a larger uptick in tourism growth as many destinations, such as Qiddya open their doors from 2024/5 onwards.”

The tourism sector is expected to add $70-80 billion to the Saudi economy by 2030. This year, the sector experienced a remarkable 10 per cent growth in GDP.

Saudi Arabia launched Vision 2030 in 2016, a reform program set out by the government to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil, and improve citizens’ quality of life through various economic, social and cultural initiatives by 2030.

“Tourism’s contribution to the economy was summed up brilliantly by the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, Fahd Hamidaddin, when he said: “The World in the 1920s came to Saudi for oil, now the world will come in the 2020s for tourism. Tourism is the new oil.”,” Castagnéra said.

Destinations like the ancient city of AlUla have emerged as key attractions, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world. Many other new entertainment offerings have been made available in the Kingdom over the past few years, such as concerts, mega-festivals, and theme parks.

Earlier this week, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) announced it will create a Transformers theme park in the Kingdom.

Commenting on the announcement, Castagnéra said that the proposed destinations are going to offer a “huge spectrum” of entertainment for all residents to enjoy.

“Now is the optimum time to launch as there is a dynamic and large population of Saudi Arabians hungry for new experiences, combined with an ever-growing number of expats and tourists who want to try the best in lifestyle experiences. Both groups have the spending power to enable economic returns, but ultimately, it’s also destinations to unwind and have some fun.”

“Tourism has been critical to Saudi Arabia’s economy for decades but historically the driving force has been Hajj season. This annual event, along with year-round Umrah pilgrimages, makes the kingdom an estimated $12 billion,” he added.

“However, the success of destinations such as AlUla has opened up new sectors for lifestyle tourism. This region alone welcomed over 250,000 visitors according to data from May 2022, exceeding forecasts. So, when you consider the continued expansion & awareness of AlUla and the development of established locations such as Jeddah, there is a lot more to come.”


Arabian Business

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