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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Saudi Arabia to set up 10bn riyal entertainment investment firm

The new company will seeks partnerships to expand the country's offerings

Saudi Arabia wants to increase its entertainment offerings as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from oil. Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters
Saudi Arabia wants to increase its entertainment offerings as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from oil. Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to set up a 10 billion Saudi riyal entertainment investment company as part of the kingdom’s economic diversification plans to wean itself off oil.

The company plans to invest in several projects, including an entertainment complex that will be launched in 2019, the fund said, without providing further details, according to a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The new company will seek partnerships and help expand the scope and variety of entertainment offerings, the fund added. The venture is targeting more than 50 million visitors per year and earmarked to create more than 22,000 jobs, contributing 8bn riyals to the kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2030.

“The company’s establishment is consistent with the ambitions within Vision 2030 to increase the Kingdom’s cultural and entertainment offering, to create new employment opportunities, and to make use of the wealth of talent and energy among Saudi youth,” the fund said.

“The new company will form a central pillar of the kingdom’s diverse entertainment sector, providing new investment capital to support the sector’s growth and the diversification of the Saudi economy over the short and long-term.”

The company will also “seek to localise the large amount of spending on entertainment outside the kingdom,” the fund said, without elaborating.

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Opec's largest oil producer unveiled Vision 2030 last year to help diversify the economy away from oil and cope with a three year oil glut that has crimped economic growth.

The fund plans to develop a 334-square kilometre entertainment city south of the capital Riyadh that will include a safari and a Six Flags theme park. The city, which was announced in April, will break ground next year with a launch date of 2022. The fund is the main investor in the development but other unnamed local and international investors will also provide capital to the project.

Under the 2020 National Transformation Programme, which was revealed last year, tourism investment is set to increase to 171.5bn riyals from 145bn riyals and tourism spending is forecast to rise to 174.8bn riyals from 104.8bn riyals.

The contribution of tourism to GDP is also projected to reach 3.1 per cent by 2020 from 2.9 per cent.