An initiative spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has announced that by 2020 they plan to spend 50 billion riyals ($13.33 / Dhs48.8 billion) in a bid to modernise the country and create a viable entertainment industry.
“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,” says Ahmed Al Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) during an event in Riyadh. “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.”
Key projects for the initiative include 16 entertainment complexes, an aquatic centre and three other huge leisure hubs — all part of a Saudi’s new scheme to ensure the country’s three cities make it into the global top 100 for quality of life. The program, aptly named ‘Quality of Life’, should generate 300,000 jobs by 2020.
Acclaimed British actor Idris Elba, American actress Katie Holmes and retired footballer player Thierry Henry visited the Kingdom to kick off the initiative.
During a speech at the Riyadh-based event, Golden Globe-winning Elba took to the stage and hinted that he might be shooting his next movie in the GCC.
“Saudi Arabia gave me an opportunity to make my film here. It made sense on an economical model,” the London-based actor said. “I would definitely be here — why not? Saudi Arabia has an awesome opportunity to spread its culture through film-making.”
.@idriselba: "It's very important that the world collaboraters see #culture through entertainment and through transperancy of storytelling." #QOL pic.twitter.com/c55WUrq5g9— CIC Saudi Arabia (@CICSaudi) May 3, 2018
The kingdom has undergone many changes in recent months, repealing a decades-long ban on cinemas only last year, holding concerts, allowing families into sports stadiums and women now able to learn to drive.
Details are yet to be confirmed on Elba’s movie, so make sure you watch this space.