Saudi Gazette – With recreational and cultural opportunities limited in the Kingdom, there has been a gap between the Saudi citizens’ income level and the standard of wellbeing. This was fervently voiced by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, in an interview with Alarabiya following the announcement of the Vision 2030 last April.
Entertainment outlets and cultural activities are crucial to change the standard of living of a Saudi citizen, the prince emphasized amid a wave of reforms to modernize the Kingdom.
Land suitable for cultural and entertainment projects will be provided and talented writers, authors, and directors will be supported, according to the National Transformation Plan, the first 5-year strategy outline to implement the Vision 2030.
The plan stated that cultural venues, such as libraries, arts and museums, “as well as entertainment possibilities to suit tastes” would be introduced. Such projects aim to contribute to the national economy and create job opportunities, the prince stated. The government aims to generate 1.2 million jobs from the tourism and national heritage sector as well as create five new tourist destinations, 241 museums, 155 archeological sites, and 17 craft centers by 2020.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage also aims to increase the number of registered world heritage sites from four to ten. Festivals and local events around the country are expected to increase to 500 in the next five years. Domestic tourism spending is to increase from SR105 billion to SR174 billion and the number of tourists to 82 million.
The Cabinet approved the establishment of the General Authority for Entertainment in May in efforts to promote local tourism although the authority has not been publicly revealed yet.
“We still don’t know much about the authority and what it will do in terms of promoting entertainment,” says Abdulrahman Sandokji, an executive producer and filmmaker based in Madinah.
“However, I imagine there would be more galleries, museums, exhibitions, other types of exposure for local artists and Saudis in artistic fields. These artists are still not as exposed as we’d like them to be. We would like the authority to promote them more.”