Riyadh, KSA: With the event industry growing in Saudi Arabia in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plans, the Kingdom is poised to become the central destination for events in the region.
Aligned with Vision 2030, throughout 2020 entertainment venues across the region increased from 154 in 2017 to 277 in 2021 cementing the Kingdom's future capabilities for hosting small and large-scale events throughout the year. Since the Vision was adopted, over 2,000 events have been hosted, with over 46 million visitors.
Putting this growth into view is the Saudi Event Show, organised by Informa Connect, that opened today at the Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences and runs from 7-8 December.
The exhibition and conference are set to attract more than 2,000 events and entertainment professionals and 50 innovative exhibitors from across the industry over the next two days – offering a platform for attendees to meet and engage with key local and international stakeholders and discuss the Kingdom's prospective opportunities for the industry.
A backbone of the event, the two-day seminar agenda kicked off this afternoon with a keynote address from Amjad Al-Shacker, Acting CEO of the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General Authority who delivered an opening address on 'Hosting the Future of MICE Events in The Kingdom';
“If we look at the 2030 Vision guidelines, one of the most important is that a company needs to be sustainable – they need to have a business plan that shows growth over years. What that means for PEO's and PCO's is that we are ensuring there will be a lot of work on sustainability for many decades to come.
We are also working with regions across the Kingdom as all of them want to have their seasons which aren't all necessarily about entertainment, they have a dual part to play. The first part is of course entertainment but the second is business tourism for the MICE industry,” said Shacker.
Shacker identified regulations as a key focal point for the Authority as it tried to streamline ease of doing business in the Kingdom;“So this is what we are working on when it comes to our new strategy, which can't happen unless we examine the regulation that governs all of this. The team and I have been working on all the regulations we currently have and I can sum it up in three different categories – regulation that needs to be altered; regulation that needs to be removed to make life easier for everyone; and there are certain regulations that don't exist that need to be implemented to help you do your job better so that we become enablers.
I can tell you that even without us having started implementing these changes, the sector is thriving. Year on year the number of workshops and events that have been taking place has increased by 58%. Another area where the government shows its strength is on new license approvals – as SCEGA over the past year, the amount of licences we issued has increased tenfold,” said Shacker.
Other key discussion topics across the event agenda include; a panel discussion around the 'Role Of The Event Industry in Supporting The Regional Economy, and In Line With Vision 2030' with Abdulwahab Baghdadi, Board Director, PEIA, and Dr. Emad Monshi, Consultant and Assistant Professor in Event and Tourism Management at the College of Tourism and Archaeology, King Saud University.
“Ever since H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mandated the entertainment and events industry to become a key engine of economic growth, the sheer amount of new companies, events and entertainment venues being launched in the Kingdom is amazing. At the second edition of the Saudi Event Show we have seen increased interest since last year and have tailored the show to support dialogue and spur new partnerships,” said Amar Daginawala, Exhibition Director, Saudi Event Show.
On the local front, the government is aiming to increase household spending on entertainment and cultural activities from 2.6% to 6% by 2030. The Kingdom's aim is to become the top event's destination in the region through local and international visitors.
Saudi Event Show is taking place in-person and being held in adherence with Informa AllSecure, an enhanced set of health and safety standards that raise the bar on safe, hygienic, productive, and high-quality event experiences.
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