The Saudi Arabian entertainment and amusement market are expected to register a CAGR of 4% over the forecast period (2019-2024). Under the goal of promoting and diversifying entertainment opportunities in KSA, a royal decree was issued in October 2016, to order the creation of the General Entertainment Authority. With year-round activities, more than 2,200 event days in 2017, and targeting 5,500 event days in 2018, with over 15 million attendees (100% increase YoY), the entertainment sector created 20,000 jobs in its first seven months, generating SAR 2.05 for every 1 SAR spent on entertainment activities Top international IP have chosen KSA as a strategic location to deliver top tier events. There are several stakeholders working in the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia. These include GEA, SCTH, the General Culture Authority, and the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), which is tasked with licensing the newly reinstated cinema movies and PIF. The Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a subsidiary company of GEA, was launched by PIF in January 2018, with an initial capital of USD 2.6 billion.
The company is working with a US partner on a joint venture to operate cinemas in the Kingdom. DIEC expects to open 30-40 cinemas in approximately 15 cities in Saudi Arabia, over the next five years, and a total of 50-100 cinemas in approximately 25 Saudi Arabian cities, by 2030. GEA has indicated that this sector needs USD 71.2 billion to build a suitable infrastructure for entertainment across the Kingdom, and the number of expected investments in the sector could reach USD 4.8 billion annually, between 2017 and 2030. In addition to AMC Theaters, GEA has signed contracts with Six Flags, National Geographic, Cirque Du Soleil, and IMG Artists, to operate entertainment venues throughout the Kingdom. In April 2018, the Kingdom laid the foundation stone of the Al-Qiddiya project, the new entertainment, sports, and cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, west of Riyadh, with a total area of 334 square meters. By 2030, the number of annual visitors to Al- Qiddiya is expected to reach 17 million in the entertainment sector, 12 million in the shopping sector, and two million in the hospitality sector.
Potential for Entertainment Business in Saudi Arabia
(i) Largest Population Country across GCC.
Saudi has the largest population among GCC countries. As of 2019, the total population is 34.1 million, with 60% under the age of 34 years.
(ii) Saudi’s Planned Entertainment Portfolio under Vision 2030.
Entertainment clusters, two theme parks, cinemas, family, and special attractions (entertainment centers), themed retail, entertainment sports, and boulevard for live shows and events.
Key Market Trends Cinema Revolution
The Kingdom’s decision to lift the 35-year ban on cinemas, in December 2017, has opened opportunities for international and regional companies to help develop the domestic entertainment industry. As such, the Public Investment Fund has taken the initiative to lead the local cinema industry, by signing a deal formed as a joint venture between DIEC and the US cinema chain AMC Entertainment, to open cinemas in the Kingdom, with the first movie theater opened in Riyadh on April 18, 2018, and about 30 movie theatres to be opened in 15 cities around the Kingdom, within the next five years.
Moreover, the PIF has intended to see 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens around the Kingdom, by 2030, and forecasts the sector to be worth around USD 1 billion over the next few years. The announcement of this joint venture was followed on April 22, by the news that Vox Cinemas, a subsidiary of UAE-based entertainment company, Majid Al Futtaim, was awarded the second license to open cinemas in the Kingdom. The company also plans to invest SAR 2 billion in 600 screens over the next five years, which Saudi officials estimate may bring the total number of cinemas in operation to as high as 350, and the number of screens to 2,500, by 2030.
Qiddiya project is an entertainment, sports, and cultural precinct, located 40 km south-west of Riyadh. The 334-sq-km site has plans for six entertainment clusters, including a theme park, sport arenas, motor tracks, water and snow sport facilities, vacation homes, and venues to host cultural activities. Phase one is scheduled for completion in 2022, and by 2030, the project is expected to generate some 57,000 jobs and contribute SAR 17 billion to the GDP. According to PIF, the Qiddiya project aims to attract 17 million entertainment visitors, 12 million shopping visitors, and 2 million hospitality visitors, by 2030. In comparison, the world’s most visited amusement park, Magic Park at Disney World in Florida, attracted 20.4 million visitors in 2016, followed by Disneyland in California, with 17.9 million, and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, with 16.5 million.
Competitive Landscape The market is highly competitive, with the presence of major international players. The market presents opportunities for growth during the forecast period, which is expected to further drive the competition. With few players holding a significant share, the market has observable level of consolidation.
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