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Khatib Says Saudi Arabia will Open ‘Cinemas’ and Build ‘Opera House’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) Ahmed al-Khatib. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia will open cinemas and build a world-class opera house, Ahmed al-Khatib, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), said on Thursday, without specifying a date.

Cinemas were not on the agenda in the short term, but would come to Saudi Arabia eventually, Khatib told Reuters in an interview.

“We will get there. We’ll get there. I know how. I don’t know when,” he said.

Saudi Arabia witnessed this year several concerts that were held in Jeddah and Riyadh.

Saudi Vision 2030 seeks to improve the Kingdom’s cultural sector and establish centers that embrace creativity.

Khateeb said the GEA’s activities have created 20,000 jobs so far after only seven months, and can surpass targets set out last year in the Vision 2030. He predicts the share of Saudi spending on entertainment will triple to 8 or 9 percent by 2030.

“Our start is very encouraging. Every event is sold out,” he said.

“The demand is massive. And it is normal – the demographic is young in Saudi Arabia and we have a higher disposable income than other countries,” he added.

Earlier this month, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Investment Fund, announced the launch of the project of the Kingdom’s largest cultural, sports and entertainment city in Al Qidiya, southwest of Riyadh.

The city is the first of its kind in the world at 334 square kilometers and will include a major safari area.