Saudi Arabia to Invest $64 bn in Entertainment

Saudi Arabia to Invest $64 bn in Entertainment

Saudi Arabia to Invest $64 bn in Entertainment

Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority on Thursday announced that it was set to build an opera house in Riyadh, a local media reported.

"We will invest 240 billion [Saudi] riyals over 10 years", Ahmed al-Khateeb, head of the General Entertainment Authority, said, adding that the amount will come from both the government and investors.

That "Don Giovanni", "The Marriage of Figaro" or the "Barber of Seville" could soon be soaring through the rafters of a new Riyadh opera house is down to Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030' project, the plan to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil".

The kingdom has been relaxing its decades-old restrictions on entertainment and fun, as part of a wider effort spearheaded by the young crown prince to boost the economy and increase household spending domestically.

"God willing, you will see a real change by 2020", the entertainment chief said, adding that more than 5,000 events were planned for the coming year. The futuristic building will host a touring exhibition and four galleries.

But it follows a series of events in recent months including concerts, a Comic-Con festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing in the streets to thumping electronic music for the first time. Sited on the Red Sea, and the primary port of entry for Mecca and Medina, it has been shaped by the flow of pilgrims and immigrants from nearby countries.

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