Saudi Seasons ‘will drive jobs, economy, tourism’, says General Entertainment Authority chief exec

RIYADH: The Saudi Seasons program of sports, cultural and entertainment events will contribute to a thriving economy and a vibrant society, one of the main driving forces behind the initiative told Arab News on Saturday.

Amr Banaja, chief executive of the General Entertainment Authority, said his team would be evaluating the “social return” on the financial investment involved in bringing a raft of world-class performers to the Kingdom.

Major entertainment events, he said, were “an example of attracting around 5 million visitors to our events, 1 million of them tourists from outside the Kingdom.

“We are working with over 80 local companies; under these companies there are so many subcontracted suppliers, we are creating over 25,000 jobs, we are also developing opportunities for over 25,000 volunteers.

In the first few years of building a new economy, a lot of efforts are required.

Amr Banaja, GEA chief executive

“They will create not just people that are happy across the Kingdom, and tourists, but they will create real economic impact from job creation to GDP contribution. We will analyze all the results from the first year and continue to build on the success that we have had.”

Sustainability was a top priority for the authority, Banaja said. “In the long run, we would be contributing to the economy as well as job creation, and we’ve already seen it.

“In the first few years of building a new economy, a lot of efforts are required, from setting up the regulations and licensing process to igniting all the support for the private sector. 

“We have started to develop some real local companies as well as local talents, and in the near future we will be dependent on a thriving local industry.

“Bringing things from abroad is not necessarily always negative, and we’ll have opportunities to do that, but also have things that are local and locally developed.”



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