Saudi Arabia's biggest entertainment event to date, Riyadh Season, has been a smashing success. The multi-location festival painlessly attracted over 5 million visitors in its first three weeks alone, was extended beyond its two-month schedule, and made quite the cash to say the least.
Turki Al Al-Sheikh, the head of the country's General Entertainment Authority - the government body in charge with such festivals in the kingdom - revealed that Riyadh Season generated $270 million in revenues.
The figure represents initial income from the season, Al-Sheikh explained, adding that indirect revenues over the festival period made via the Saudi payment system Mada exceeded 4 billion Saudi riyals ($1 billion).
In recent number updates, the official announced that Riyadh Season has attracted around 10.3 million visitors and provided over 34,700 jobs.
Its staggering success will now motivate the GEA to host events on the same scale at the upcoming Sharqiah and Jeddah seasons.
The capital's event was planned to end on Dec.15 but had some of its sections extended until late January 2020 due to its success rate and demand among the kingdom's residents and tourists. Launched on Oct. 11 with a concert by K-Pop superstars BTS at King Fahd International Stadium, it's considered one of 11 Saudi Seasons that aim to promote Saudi Arabia as a hub for tourism and entertainment.
So far, it has been the most successful in the country and has brought some incredible firsts including Saudi Arabia's first women's WWE match, the only "solo stadium show" in the nation's history, and a horror festival in celebration of Halloween.
Tens of concerts were held as part of Riyadh Season featuring Arab and international artists from all over the world. The event also hosted a version of UK's Winter Wonderland and its Riyadh Boulevard saw people experience the capital through a completely new perspective.
The plan to diversify the kingdom's economy is on track
Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 was placed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 to boost the country's oil-reliant economy. The ambitious blueprint aims at bolstering tourism, entertainment, and other industries that were previously put on the back-burner so that they become able to generate income for the country.
We can now say the plan to achieve this specific goal is right on track with tourism, entertainment, and even sports events already generating impressive revenues.
When it comes to tourism, the kingdom is opening up to tourists like never before. It introduced its first-ever tourist visa in September, with some lenient laws and rules for tourists to enjoy their stay to the maximum.
As far as entertainment goes, events, concerts, and cultural festivals have been attracting millions of visitors and earning millions in ticket sales. Sports is another developing sector that is set to join the list of money-making events as the Gulf nation entirely transforms its economy.