Complex Made Simple

Saudi bidding for top global spot in entertainment in 2018 and beyond

Tourist visas have yet to be issued, but Saudi is vying for top spot among countries with the highest spending on lifestyle and entertainment globally.

Last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Saudi would once again be “a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions, traditions and people”.

From fashion to opera, festivals to concerts, and movie watching to film making, the stage is set for the kingdom to claim its stake and target not only tourists but also Saudi Arabia’s young population of around 30 million, 65% to 75% of which are under the age of 30.

Saudi hosts Modest Fashion

According to Forbes, Saudi Arabia will embrace the $44 billion Modest Fashion Market as it gets ready to host its first fashion event in Riyadh next March.

Modest fashion is a style of stage modeling using a less revealing or conservative style of clothing.

Read: Is the second wave of the Saudi anti-corruption probe on again?

Pinterest UK shows searches for “modest fashion” are up 500% since the beginning of this year.

“The Arab Fashion Week, which is organized by the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), will be headlined by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli and will see some of the leading brands congregating in the Kingdom,” said Forbes

The announcement comes on the heels of London-based AFC opening an office in Riyadh in December 2017.

According to a report by Statista, Saudi revenues from the fashion segment is set to reach $1.9 million in 2018.

Globally Muslims spent about $243 billion on clothing in 2015 while the revenues from modest fashion reached $44 billion, a report by Thomson Reuters showed.

“In January 2016, Dolce & Gabbana introduced its line of abayas and hijabs, and Carolina Herrera followed suit in Spring 2017. Uniqlo and Burberry have also jumped into modest fashion, while sportswear brand Nike made headlines when it introduced a sports hijab in 2017,” reported Forbes.

67% of Saudis to go to the movies 

10 years, $64bn

According to BBC, Saudi will invest $64bn in developing its entertainment industry over the next decade.

The Saudi head of the General Entertainment Authority said 5,000 events were planned this year alone, including those by Maroon 5 and Cirque du Soleil.

Saudi Arabia’s first opera house is set to open in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Ahmed Al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), announced on Thursday, as reported by Arab news.

He said: “In the past, investors would go outside the kingdom to produce their work, and then showcase it back in Saudi Arabia.”

“Today, change will happen and everything related to entertainment will be done here. And God willing, you will see a real change by 2020.”

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for an entertainment city on the edge of Riyadh which will be about the same as Las Vegas and will offer cultural, sporting and entertainment activities – including a Six Flags park and a safari park.

Bitcoin stumbles below $10k: Saudi shows how Ripple makes millions


Saudi is targeting is build 300 cinemas outlets by 2030, or 2000 screens distributed throughout major cities.

“This would generate an extra $24 billion and create 30,000 jobs nationwide,” reported by Gulf News.

“There are 10 malls ready for cinemas currently in the country. They are just waiting for the cinema licences,” Mohammad Al Alawi, chairman of the Shopping Centres Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

Majid Al Futtaim, owner of the Vox and Novo Cinemas, Britain’s Vu Entertainment, America’s AMC and the Canadian IMAX have all announced plans to open cinemas.

“These companies have rushed to sign Memorandums of Understanding with the Saudi government through its Public Investment Fund which has already allocated  $2.66 bn to boost the country’s leisure sector,” reported Gulf News.

Already, Saudi Arabia held its first stand-up comedy festival in Jeddah earlier this month attracting 10,000 spectators.

Saudi nationals currently spend $20bn overseas on entertainment.

“We are bringing the most exciting and famous events to Saudi Arabia this year,” Khatib told Reuters in an interview, adding that state-sponsored entertainment events would be staged in 56 cities.