Saudi game to cash in on entertainment

 

Saudi game to cash in on entertainment

Riyadh - Kingdom is trying to shake off its conservative image in a drive to keep tourist dollars at home.

By Reuters

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Published: Wed 23 Jan 2019, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 8:10 AM

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it expects billions of dollars to be pumped into a nascent state-backed entertainment sector and is eyeing dozens of Western acts, including an exhibition NBA basketball game and a Spanish-style running of the bulls.

The kingdom is trying to shake off its conservative image in a drive to keep tourist dollars at home, lure foreign visitors, create jobs for young Saudis, and improve the quality of life in a country where cinemas and public concerts were banned until recently.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has loosened social strictures, including ending a ban on women driving, curbing the powers of the religious police and easing gender segregation rules.

At the launch of the 2019 entertainment calendar, Turki Al Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), listed dozens of events the kingdom hopes to host this year, including auto races, magic shows and theatrical performances.

Apart from recreating Pamplona's San Fermín bull-running festival, the GEA has plans for e-gaming tournaments, musicals like Aladdin and The Lion King, and possibly an NBA basketball game.

Al Sheikh said coffee shops and restaurants will be issued permits to host live musical performances and stand- up comedy events. - Reuters


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