Saudi Arabia, The Sleeping Giant of Entertainment and Leisure in The Gulf

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October 18, 2021

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one of the largest populations in the Middle East at over 33 million residents, with over half of inhabitants under the age of 30 with a considerable appetite for entertainment, culture and sports.

Are you Not Entertained!

The Saudi entertainment and amusement sector is forecast to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030 and grow by a massive 47.65 percent per year, according to a new industry report.

The US-based Research and Markets study said that the growth compares with just $23.77 million in 2020.  “The entertainment industry of Saudi Arabia is growing massively. Saudi Arabia has been putting its best effort to build a unique and world-class entertainment hub that includes innovative rides, cultural or historical attractions, and mega sporting events,” the report said.

The government has played a leading role in the change, establishing the General Authority for Entertainment (GAE) in 2016. One of the biggest entertainment investments in the Kingdom is the Qiddiya project. Announced in 2017, work at the site — located just a 40-minute drive from the capital — began in April the following year.

A Smarter Market

Apart from the UAE, which has almost perfect coverage of smartphones and mobile phones, other places like Sudan and Palestine significantly lag.  This doesn’t mean they are cut off from the world at large.  Even if they may not have great smartphone coverage, they may have a perfect distribution of laptops and desktops. Most people living in the Middle East enjoy multitasking, especially with multi-screens. For instance, a typical Saudi teenager could be chatting with his friends on Whatsapp, googling Laptop retailers on his laptop while listening to the television in the background.

With these issues on the ground, digital marketing in the Middle East doesn’t toe the general rule of thumb. To excel at digital marketing in the Middle East, you need to understand the trends above and fashion out marketing strategies that are tailored to them. Watch out for social media trends in the Middle East and work with them.  As a digital marketer targeting the Middle Eastern market, learn how to make excellent videos. Of recent, data gotten from YouTube shows an increased engagement of Arab youths on YouTube videos.  Other social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have become quite common and popular among those that have smartphones. People tend to learn about world happenings from Facebook. This, however, doesn’t still provide enough coverage for the Middle East. What is left is a major adaptation. The brands that have successfully carried out digital marketing campaigns in the Middle East have had to consider the following factors and maximize them.

A Country with A Vision

Saudis Vision 2030 is a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia‘s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. Key goals include reinforcing economic and investment activities, increasing non-oil international trade, and promoting a softer and more secular image of the Kingdom. It also consists of increasing government spending on the military, as well as manufacturing equipment and ammunition.

For Entertainment, Vision 2030 aspires to grow household spending on entertainment from 2.9% to 6.0%, which in turn is expected to develop a SAR 30 B market. Realizing this aspiration requires developing cutting-edge entertainment experiences, launching new entertainment attractions and hosting world-class events and festivals.

For Tourism, Vision 2030 aims to create attractions that are of the highest international standards, improve visa issuance procedures for visitors, and develop Saudi historical and heritage sites. Saudi Arabia aims to more than double the number of Saudi heritage sites registered with UNESCO.

Understanding the local culture is the best way to mount a successful digital marketing campaign. Working with the local culture is the difference between having loyal customers attached to your brand and having a brand that isn’t recognized by the locals.

A Female Affair

Saudi women have come a long way in the workplace, taking up positions in public relations and advertising in recent years. But, despite improved access to education and work in the Kingdom, women make up a very small part of the public relations sector, occupying less than a quarter of the jobs across the world.

On a global scale, women make up more than 60 percent of the public relations specialists and in Saudi Arabia women entering into the PR fields has been growing with communication companies and departments witnessing more women executives.  Most sectors in the kingdom are currently witnessing the entry of women in senior managerial positions, although they’re are a lot of women working in the industries.

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia is poised for an influx of leisure and entertainment industry players from around the region as the kingdom is tipped to become the sector’s leading MENA market by 2025.

The bullish forecast follows a survey commissioned by the organisers of the Saudi Entertainment & Amusement (SEA) Expo & Summit, in which 73 percent of more than 560 canvassed sector players stated their intention to launch a presence in the kingdom within the next two years.

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