Middle East

Saudi Agricultural Convoy Helps Taykhbala Farmers Face Growing Challenges

Dubai: Until five years ago, most forms of popular entertainment were frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. There was no music blaring at public concerts, no movie theaters to awe audiences with the magic of cinema.

Fast-forward to the present: Saudi Arabia has gone from having few entertainment venues to becoming a Middle Eastern hub for cultural events, art exhibitions and film screenings.

All of this is the result of Vision 2030, a reform plan launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 to transform the kingdom socially and economically. The strategy assumes that Saudi household spending on entertainment will increase by about 2% annually.

During that time, the Saudi entertainment industry experienced explosive growth. Every city has a movie theater where men and women can freely gather and interact.

Saudi fans attended the MDL Beast Fest, an electronic music festival held in Bambang, a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

Major music concerts like MDL Beast entertain hundreds of thousands of people. International film festivals and contemporary art exhibitions are held regularly, and celebrities and performers frequent Saudi Arabia.

“We want Saudis to enjoy our country. We want them to be entertained and be like the rest of the world,” said the Kingdom’s National Event Center chief. Kaswara Al-Khatibu, head of media, told Arab News.

“Saudi people no longer have to travel for entertainment and foreigners can come to the kingdom and enjoy the entertainment. It cannot be a country, and this is the biggest factor in the change affecting the way Saudis think.”

The entertainment sector is one of several forces driving the social and economic changes that will open Saudi Arabia to the world. Vision 2030 envisions and supports the entertainment market to grow to her 30 billion riyals ($8 billion).

A handout photo released by the Saudi Arabian General Agency for Cultural Affairs on April 26, 2018 shows the National Arab Musical Ensemble (AME) of the Cairo Opera House performing at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh. (AFP/Saudi Arabia General Department of Culture)

Saudi Arabia is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East, with nearly half of its residents under the age of 30, and has a large and growing appetite for entertainment. Hundreds of new cinemas, theme park projects, entertainment cities and family entertainment centers will be built by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s entertainment market to grow from its current size ($23.77 million in 2020) to $1.17 billion by the end of 2030 (annual growth of 47.65%), according to a 2021 study by US-based Research and Markets expected to grow.

“Saudi entertainment industry has gone from zero to hero in a few years,” Al-Khatibu said. “Prior to Saudi Seasons, there was no entertainment in Saudi Arabia. There were few places for family and friends to go, and few opportunities for celebrations and concerts.

“There were no cinemas, no plays, no international concerts. Saudis were traveling outside Saudi Arabia to attend concerts or attend performances by some of Saudi Arabia’s most popular singers like Mohammed Abdu. The concerts did not take place in Saudi Arabia, they took place outside of Saudi Arabia.”

Saudis are now out in droves to see music performances. Men, women and children participate and enjoy concerts by local as well as international artists.

Saudi women gather at a cinema in Riyadh Park Mall after it opened to the public on April 30, 2018. (AFP/file photo)

“Today, we are proud to bring these concerts home, as we have managed to attract not only Saudi performers, but also many international performers and celebrities from the region and the West,” said Alkhatib. says Mr. “This is definitely one of his major transformations.”

Saudi Seasons is an initiative launched by the Saudi Tourism and National Heritage Board in 2019 that brings together festivals in different regions to shine a light on Saudi culture and heritage and bring entertainment to more Saudis. planned and held.

The first Saudi Seasons featured 11 festivals across the kingdom, a practice that continues today. There are seasons of Riyadh, Jeddah, Eastern Province, Taif, Al Sudha, National Day, Diriyah, Al Ula, Hail, Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr.

The initiative is led by various Saudi authorities, including the Ministry of Culture, the General Entertainment Authority, the Ministry of Sports and the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Authority, under the guidance of a commission headed by the Crown Prince.

The main objective of Saudi Seasons is to increase spending on tourism in Saudi Arabia, provide more employment opportunities, promote business initiatives and tourism in Saudi Arabia, and improve the quality of life.


*50% of residents are under 30 years old.

* 6% covers household spending on entertainment under Vision 2030.

* 80% of current home entertainment budgets are spent abroad.

* The projected entertainment market size under Vision 2030 is 30 billion riyals.

It has also created enormous employment opportunities for Saudi youth. The 2019 Jeddah season alone has created her 5,000 job opportunities for young men and women.

The Saudi film industry has expanded in step with the rapid advancement of entertainment in the kingdom. In the past few years, young filmmakers have returned to the country after years of working abroad to benefit from the kingdom’s investments in entertainment.

In February 2020, the Ministry of Culture established a Film Commission. This is a “government agency dedicated to developing and organizing the film sector, raising production levels, marketing Saudi films, encouraging finance and investment, and developing content. The commission also supports young creative talent. It defines laws and regulations and represents the Kingdom in regional and international forums related to cinema.”

Other organizations supporting films in the Kingdom include Film AlUla and the Misk Foundation, set up by the Crown Prince to empower Saudi youth and support social transformation in Saudi Arabia. Misk runs a screenwriting program, among other initiatives, to help filmmakers.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East, with nearly half of its residents under the age of 30, and has a large and growing appetite for entertainment. (attached)

Born and raised in London, 29-year-old Saad Abutaily, who works for Riyadh-based Nebras Films, spent most of his life there before returning to the Kingdom in 2019.

Abu Tairi emphasized how much money was available to support Saudi filmmakers. “Now everything is coming to life,” he told Arab News.

At the University of Nebras, Abu Tairi said he regularly sees new graduates receiving government subsidies to make films and advance their careers.

In May, it was announced that Saudi Arabia’s expanding Telfaz 11 Studios had signed a deal with France’s Easy Riders Films to co-produce four Saudi films. Abutaily said Nebras is now independently producing another film.

Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, one of many sporting events to be held in the Kingdom as part of the Vision 2030 plan. (AFP)

Last November, Saudi officials announced investments totaling $64 billion in the nascent entertainment industry as part of a broader effort to pull the economy away from oil and eventually become the region’s leading film destination. .

“In 2019, things started to change. In 2021/2022, the country will be completely different,” Abu Tairy said from his base in Riyadh. “Now I enjoy my weekends more here than in Cannes or London. There are so many things you can do here right now.

“This is why we are back in Saudi Arabia and living in good health.

Saudis no longer have to travel for entertainment, and foreigners can come to the kingdom and enjoy the entertainment, said Kaswara Al-Khatibu, chief media officer of the Saudi National Events Center. (AFP)

Abutaily said it’s a great time to be in Saudi Arabia, not only for Saudis but also for foreigners. “Music producers are now making music in Saudi Arabia. Artists, filmmakers and many others have returned to the country from the US, UK and UAE. When did they come back?

“COVID-19 slowed us down, but now we are back on track and in full swing. Culture has always been there in Saudi Arabia, but it was very limited. No, now I see Saudis coming back from abroad to go to big public gatherings and shows here.”

Saudi filmmakers have traveled further throughout the kingdom, visiting Abha, AlUla, NEOM, Taif, Jeddah, the Eastern Province, and taking inspiration from their country to shoot films on locations in different regions. increase.

“The whole world is interested in the story of Saudi Arabia,” Mujtaba Saeed, a 35-year-old filmmaker who splits between Saudi Arabia and Germany, told Arab News.

“We have many stories yet to be told and we want to share our human experience with the world. We have received a lot of support and are helping us tell our story to the world.”

His recent short film Zawal, which depicts the pandemic from the perspective of refugees, won the Golden Palm Award at the 2022 Saudi Film Festival and most recently won the Golden Sail Award at the Gulf Television Festival in Bahrain.

“We are living in a historic moment in Saudi Arabia right now,” Said said. “We want to express ourselves, tell our stories, and show the world that we are alike and that our needs and goals are universal.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2151031/saudi-arabia Saudi Agricultural Convoy Helps Taykhbala Farmers Face Growing Challenges

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