Expos begin in Riyadh, shine light on future of entertainment in Saudi Arabia

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo and the Saudi Light and Sound Expo began in Riyadh on Tuesday. The events aim to shine a light on the future of the entertainment industry in the Kingdom, showcase the latest products and technologies, and provide a forum for those at the forefront of a rapidly evolving sector in the country.

Spanning three days of creativity, interactive experiences and technological innovations, the expos will offer a glimpse what is to come in the entertainment sector and the opportunities this will create, Eihab Abourokbah, the CEO of the Saudi Entertainment Academy, told Arab News.

The events, which continue until Thursday at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center, opened to the public, including local and international experts, public-sector authorities, and industry professionals, following an inauguration by Mohannad Al-Abbad, chief investment and business development officer at the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority. This was followed by a VIP walk-through by a delegation that included GEA representatives, as the event got underway with exhibitors and a series of panel discussions and presentations.

Running until May 9th at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Centre, SEA and SLS Expo opened on Tuesday. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Sarkis Kahwajian, associate vice president of DMG Events and the organizer of the expos, said: “As we raise the curtain on both the SEA Expo and the SLS Expo, our aim is that this year’s shows leave a deep-rooted mark on the entertainment industry in the region.

“This year is our most diverse and dynamic agenda yet. It is here, at the intersection of creativity and technology, that our list of impressive exhibitors are revealing cutting-edge products and showcasing how entertainment is evolving in the Kingdom.”

DMG said two historic deals between major players in the entertainment industry will be finalized on the sidelines of the expos to help enhance, grow and diversify the sector.

Running until May 9th at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Centre, SEA and SLS Expo opened on Tuesday. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Invest Saudi, under the auspices Ministry of Investment, will sign an agreement with Nowaar Entertainment, a company in Riyadh that focuses on experience-based events, content development and investment, to help develop the live-events industry in the Kingdom.

And Dallah Al-Baraka, a multinational corporation based in Jeddah with a broad-based investment portfolio, will sign a partnership agreement with Europa-Park, a theme park in Germany with 18 themed zones and 100 rides. The aim of the collaboration is to provide consultancy services, professional training programs, and equipment sales to help support growth in the sector in line with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan for national development and diversification.

While exhibitors from the entertainment and leisure industry around the world, including entertainment designers, consultants, contractors, mega-project developers, entrepreneurs and investors, showcase their latest products and services at the SEA Expo, their counterparts in the Kingdom, which has embarked on an entertainment renaissance in the past few years, will also unveil their latest entertainment and leisure offerings.

Running until May 9th at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Centre, SEA and SLS Expo opened on Tuesday. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Vivien Exartier, executive director of Saudi Entertainment Academy, told Arab News: “This expo is important for us because it shows our footprint, it shows that we are the only institution equipped and capable of training young Saudis under the umbrella of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the Human Resources Development Fund, and the GEA.”

The academy, described as the first of its kind in the Kingdom and supported by the GEA, offers young Saudis the chance to enroll in specialized courses and earn academic diplomas with the aim of opening up employment opportunities to them in the rapidly developing entertainment sector in the Kingdom.

Expert speakers at the SEA Expo will include officials from a wide range of public- and private-sector organizations, including Six Flags Qiddiya, Saudi Entertainment Ventures, Cruise Saudi, the Saudi Ministry of Investment, and the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Meanwhile, the SLS Expo will give visitors the chance to take a deep dive into specialist topics and technologies such as professional lighting and sound, live event management, stage technology and trussing, and virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

As the entertainment industry in the Kingdom continues to evolve rapidly, high-profile events and attractions such as operas, festivals, theme parks and cinema are raising the stakes in the country. This is creating growing demand for quality professional lighting, sound and other events-related technologies, which exhibitors at SLS Expo will hope to tap into by showing how they can provide equipment and services to act as a catalyst for the development of live events in the Kingdom.

Visitors will also have the chance to hear from industry leaders at the forefront of efforts to revolutionize the sector in the Kingdom. One of the most topical discussions during the event will be about ways to help empower and hone the skills of young Saudi talent by bridging skills gaps in the entertainment industry.

“We want summit delegates to walk away with a strategic understanding of how to implement Saudization strategies within their organizations, while also seeing the pivotal role graduate programs play in fostering growth in local talent,” said Expo organizer Kahwajian.



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