Saudi Arabia has been successfully revamping itself in the world of entertainment; this year in particular bore witness to this unimaginable change. As people are getting used to it and growing fond of it, the kingdom comes along and gifts them the present of extension, aka more fun.
Riyadh Season, the extremely popular event that's been running since Oct. 11 and was planned to end on Dec.15, had some of its sections extended until late Jan. 2020 due to its success rate and demand among the kingdom's residents and tourists.
Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority Turki Al Al-Sheikh posted the announcement on Twitter on Monday.
"We reached 7,650,000 visitors for the [Riyadh] Season in a month. And under the Crown Prince's directives, the Season has been extended until late January," Al-Sheikh tweeted, congratulating people on the continuous fun they were just granted.
The mega-festival, in fact, brought in almost half of the 7.65 million visitors in its first 10 days alone, hitting the five-million-mark three weeks into the festivities.
The number of people who have visited the capital completely exceeded expectations.
After receiving several questions from people about the extension of the event, Al-Sheikh took to Twitter to clear things up.
Riyadh Season, as a whole festival, will end on Dec. 15 as planned, with only the most popular aspects and locations of it receiving the extension.
The areas under the umbrella of extension are: Winter Wonderland, Al-Muraba'a, Riyadh Safari, and Riyadh Sahara. The events in these areas will now continue until Jan. 18, 2020.
Riyadh Boulevard alone will remain present and active until the end of March 2020.
Riyadh Season has brought some incredible firsts to the kingdom's capital. The country witnessed its first women's WWE match, the only "solo stadium show" performed by international K-Pop group BTS, and a horror festival in celebration of Halloween ... and these are, of course, only a few examples.
Not only has the season created a world of entertainment, but with 100 events and over 3,000 activities being held in 12 different locations across the city, 24,000 seasonal jobs and more than 22,000 part-time jobs were provided.
According to statistics released by Mada, a Saudi Payment Network, monetary transactions amounting to 156 million Saudi riyals ( $41.6 million) were made throughout the different event locations. Riyadh Boulevard and Winter Wonderland alone made 26 million Saudi riyals ($6.9 million) and 25 million Saudi riyals ($6.6 million) in transactions, respectively.
"The Riyadh Season is a national project that has social and economic dimensions," says economic adviser Dr. Amer al-Husseini, according to Asharq Al-Awsat. He believes this festival is a great opportunity to invest in to bolster the national economy and develop the financial resources from productive sectors.
Under the ambitious Vision 2030, the kingdom has been gradually driving its efforts away from oil-rich profits and putting forth a more diverse economic strategy. In recent months, the nation has been investing heavily in several non-oil sectors and its efforts have not gone unnoticed in the tourism industry. Among the key goals under Vision 2030 is to increase the number of tourists who visit Saudi Arabia and the revenues generated from the sector to 18 percent in the next 14 years, with a particular focus on leisure tourism aside from its religious counterpart.
With tourist visas now available to people from 49 countries and holders of a valid U.S., UK, or Schengen visa, Saudi Arabia is opening its door wide open to the world and a new rejuvenated economy.