Entertainment lies at the core of Jeddah Season, a jam-packed festival taking place across several areas in the Saudi city, and the concert line-up is pretty lit.
Taking place from June 8 till July 18, the festival will see Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram perform in Saudi Arabia for the first time in the singer's career. With more than 150 activities, the festival taps into various sectors including entertainment, culture, food, and sports.
Music enthusiasts can tune in to various artists including Ajram, Emirati singer Ahlam, Egyptian Amr Diab, and K-Pop's Super Junior, who will be making their musical debut in Jeddah.
Ajram shared the news with her fans in a tweet posted on Saturday.
"Meet me at the Jeddah Season event on June 13th," the pop star wrote in a tweet.
Ajram is one of the most popular pop stars in the region, with 20 million followers on Instagram. In 2015, the Lebanese singer overthrew Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred on Anghami's top Arabic music chart after the release of her hit song Maksouma Nossain.
The festival in Saudi Arabia knows exactly who the queen of Arab pop is, and made sure to have her partake in the kingdom's massive entertainment fiesta.
But, Ajram is not the first Lebanese diva to perform in Saudi Arabia. A few months ago, Elissa took the stage at The Hilton Jeddah.
Tourism Made Easy: A 3-minute visa process
This all comes as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which places heavy emphasis on growing the kingdom's entertainment and tourism sectors.
"Our message is loud and clear," said the general supervisor of Jeddah Season, Raed Abuzinada, according to The Daily Times.
"We're telling the world we have everything and you no longer need to travel. Jeddah is a gateway to Mecca and Medina, and those pilgrims remain here for a very short while."
"We want to broadcast a message that says: Stay longer. We want to place Jeddah on the world tourism map," he concluded.
Jeddah Season aims to boost people's idea of tourism in Saudi Arabia, which was practically non-existent 10 years ago. To attract audiences, the kingdom announced that anyone who purchased an event ticket online will be issued an e-visa in just three minutes.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has been steering its efforts towards its tourism sector, which is expected to contribute $70.9 billion to the kingdom's GDP in 2019.
Religious vs. Leisure Tourism
International arrivals to Saudi Arabia are expected to increase 5.6 percent per year, reaching 23.3 million by 2023. The biggest contributor to the sector is, and will continue to be over the next decade, religious tourism. By 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to host 30 million pilgrims. Previously, the numbers were at 19 million pilgrims, from both hajj and umrah, in 2017.
But, with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has been pushing its leisure tourism sector forward. In 2017, the kingdom announced its plans to transform the Red Sea coast into a luxury beach destination governed "by independent laws." The project aims to transform Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline into a global tourism hotspot, with luxury hotels and pristine beaches.
Construction work on the project began earlier this year. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, including the development of hotels and luxury residential units, as well as all logistical infrastructure - including air, land, and sea transport hubs.
Saudi Arabia will also witness an increase in the number of hotels and resorts in the country. In April, New York-listed Hyatt said it plans to double the number of hotels it operates in Saudi Arabia, and is set to open five new properties by 2023.
Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to reduce its dependence on oil, and tourism is one sector the kingdom has been attentive to. At the end of last year, the kingdom announced it will begin offering electronic visas to foreign visitors who wish to attend sporting events and concerts. And it seems as though the kingdom is sticking to its promises.