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Saudi authority to invest $64bn in entertainment

Saudi Arabia will invest $64bn in its entertainment sector during the next decade, an official said on Thursday, part of the kingdom’s plans to attract tourists and investors to the country.

"We will invest 240 billion [Saudi] riyals over 10 years," Ahmed al-Khateeb, head of the General Entertainment Authority, said, adding that the amount will come from both the government and investors.
The kingdom has already begun construction of its first opera house, he said.

In 2017, the authority organised more than 2,000 events across the kingdom, which were attended by 8 million people, al-Khateeb added.

This year, the authority is planning around 5,500 entertainment events in 48 cities in Saudi Arabia.

The plan is part of an ambitious reform strategy, called Vision 2030, launched by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aiming to open the country to Western investments and diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Movie theatres are scheduled to open in Saudi Arabia in March, after a 35-year ban on cinemas in the country.

In the past, Saudis used to go to Gulf neighbours for live performances or movie theatres.

"I promise you I will reverse the migration, they will come from Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain to Saudi Arabia," al-Khateeb said.

He added that 10 percent of tickets sold at a concert for Greek composer Yanni went to Bahraini nationals.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are connected with a series of bridges, which makes movement between the countries easy.

The 32-year-old crown prince has vowed that the kingdom will return to "moderate Islam" as he works on reducing the influence of the conservative religious establishment in the country.

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