Riyadh Season to generate 46,000 seasonal jobs for Saudis

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and head of the Riyadh Season, left, speaking during one of the sessions at the Joy Entertainment Industry Forum in Riyadh on Sunday. Okaz/SG photo by Sami Bugis

By Amal Al-Saeed

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

The Riyadh Season festival, which will kick off on Oct. 17, will create 46,000 seasonal jobs for Saudis in its 3,000 events and support services.

“There has been huge turnout of sponsors for the event. Around 80 percent of the target has been achieved with generating around SR400 million and this was unprecedented,” said Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and head of the Riyadh Season.

He said this during the opening session of the Joy Entertainment Industry Forum in Riyadh on Sunday. Al-Sheikh said that the entertainment sector in the Kingdom is targeting 250,000 permanent jobs until 2030.

“There has been no withdrawal of organizers or participants of events thanks to the great confidence in the Kingdom’s economy,” he said at the inauguration.

The first day of the forum witnessed a series of discussions, in which the speakers included Minister of Economy and Planning Dr. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawaha.

“Saudi Arabia has begun its journey towards attracting investors,” Al-Tuwaijri said while noting that the newly started seasons and events in Saudi Arabia are only the beginning of attracting the Saudi and foreign private sector.

“Saudi Arabia is in a global competition to attract the global investors, and there are many options for the investor and the consumer, as the tourism sector, including entertainment, represents 10 percent of the global economy and that the development of infrastructure, regulations, legislation and incentives will work to attract investors in the tourism and entertainment sector,” he said.

In his speech, Al-Sawaha said the telecommunications sector contributes about 4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). “The gaming and digital content industry will change dramatically through augmented reality technologies,” the minister said.

He pointed out that, considering the demand, the Saudi market now ranks the 19th in the world and the first in the Middle East.

The Forum witnessed GEA’s signing of a number of memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) and Kafala Program for financing of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The first MoU was signed by GEA Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Al-Sawaha to develop human resources in the field of electronic games in addition to support and encourage entrepreneurship in the electronic games sector.

Another MoU was inked with KAU to transfer expertise in training and education, and the third one was signed with the Kafala Program and SMEs working in the entertainment sector.

The Kafala Program is collaboration between the Ministry of Finance, represented by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) and Saudi banks, which aims to promote financing to SMEs within the Kingdom.

The Riyadh forum represents a new phase for a promising future in the Kingdom, and is expected to have a significant impact on the local, global and regional levels, through the broad participation of companies and influential global figures. The Kingdom has become the ideal destination for entertainment in keeping with its traditions and customs.