Saudi Entertainment sector helps boost economy, social cohesion: Report

Saudis gather inside the "convention hall" at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 6, 2016, ahead of a performance by US dance group iLuminate. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2017

Saudi Entertainment sector helps boost economy, social cohesion: Report

RIYADH: The entertainment sector supported by the General Authority for Entertainment (GAE) generates SR2.02 for every riyal spent on the organization of an event, according to a report by the GAE.
Some 106 events organized in 21 Saudi cities in a period of less than one year were responsible for millions of riyals spent in the Kingdom, instead of being spent abroad, said the report.
Since its inception, on May 7, 2016, the GAE has adopted a clear-cut approach that focuses on empowering private sector institutions to organize and provide valuable programs using the latest developments in this industry and in line with long-standing values of the Kingdom, based on the teachings of Islam, the report said.
The entertainment sector, the report also said, is among the top job-generating and skill-supporting sector. It has also played a role in instilling the concept of volunteering, and in linking job seekers to businessmen, thus contributing to helping realize the Saudi Vision 2030, the report said.
GAE will go continue its programs and further boost the entertainment industry, and will seek to partner with the private sector, thus becoming a key job provider for Saudi youths, the report said.
GAE has so far provided some 20,000 jobs in this sector since its inception and supported some 106 events with visitors exceeding 2.3 million, the report said. 
GAE plans to lend its support to more than 3,000 events that fall under seven categories, in cooperation with other government agencies, the report said.
The report said that GAE will play an important part in the realization of the Vision 2030 as it will support the efforts of private and non-profit sectors from different regions and provinces to organized entertaining events and functions, as well as help use government funds to establish and develop entertainment centers where citizens and residents can put to good use their capacities and talents.
GAE will also encourage local and foreign investors, partner with global entertainment companies to establish cultural and entertainment projects, such as libraries and museums, as well as support talented citizens, be they writers or producers, and encourage cultural and entertainment activities that cater to the taste of all categories of people, the report said.
GAE will strive to generate more jobs and support the economy through the sale of tickets and food, through transportation or indirectly through spending on goods and services linked directly to certain events, such as production and marketing services, the report added.
Detailing the social objectives, the report said GAE will provide different entertainment options in order to meet the requirements of different categories of population, will contribute to cementing social cohesion and tolerance, and improve the Kingdom’s image in the world.
According to the report, the number of visitors to GAE-sponsored events in 21 cities Kingdom-wide increased steadily from 34,000 in October 2016 to more than 2.3 million by the end of April 2017.


Remittances from Saudi Arabia surge as expats help families in lockdown

Updated 04 December 2020

Remittances from Saudi Arabia surge as expats help families in lockdown

  • Foreign workers defy World Bank forecasts by sending home $32.9bn in first 10 months of year, an 18.58% rise on 2019

RIYADH: Expats in Saudi Arabia sent SR123.4 billion ($32.9 billion) in remittances to their home countries in the first 10 months of this year, a rise of 18.58 percent compared with 2019.

The surge in payments came as foreign workers in the Kingdom looked to support their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The growth is despite forecasts from the World Bank in April estimating that remittances to low- and middle-income countries would decline by 19.6 percent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region this year as workers struggled to cope with the impact of the global health crisis.

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom, with most coming from countries such as Syria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Figures from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) showed that while remittances by expats in the Kingdom rose by 18.58 percent year-on-year between January and October, the biggest spike was in June when the monthly amount surged 60 percent compared with June 2019.

July also witnessed a rise of 32 percent, while August, September, and October saw monthly levels increase 24.7 percent, 28.5 percent, and 19.2 percent, respectively, compared with the equivalent months last year.

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al Rajhi Capital, told Arab News: “Debt to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio in emerging economies has increased up to 70 percent recently, and the unemployment rate led by COVID-19 has also increased in countries such as India and the Philippines, which are the countries forming the majority of the expat population in the Kingdom.

“Therefore, we believe that increased remittances are due to rising unemployment and difficult economic conditions back in the home countries of expats.”

He said another reason why expats may have been sending more funds home was because their surplus income had increased as a result of being unable to travel or spend as much as normal due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Once the unemployment risks recede for expats in KSA, as well as in home countries, this level should normalize in our view,” Al-Sudairi added.

While the expats’ remittances increased in the 10-month period, the relative amount sent abroad by Saudi nationals declined by 17.5 percent to $12.58 billion during the same period, compared with $10.38 billion between January and October 2019.

Coronavirus travel restrictions were introduced in the Kingdom in March, leading to a 41.7 percent drop in funds transferred overseas by Saudi nationals in April compared with the same month last year. While domestic travel resumed in late May, funds sent overseas by Saudi nationals still fell 52 percent that month compared with May 2019.

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13.6 million

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom.

Remittances briefly spiked by 17 percent in June, before reducing to declines again for the remainder of the year.

Al-Sudairi said that the drop in Saudis forwarding money out of the country was also due to the pandemic and travel restrictions.

“This affected tourism and medical treatment-related remittances. Even the business-related remittances were impacted in the earlier months of lockdown due to negative confidence.”

He added that he was “expecting the trend to be better next year” once international travel resumed.

The World Bank, despite its pessimistic outline in April, also predicted that remittances would recover in 2021 and rise by 5.6 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the MENA region.

In a statement issued in April, Michal Rutkowski, global director of the World Bank’s social protection and jobs global practice, said: “Effective social protection systems are crucial to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable during this crisis in both developing countries as well as advanced countries.

“In host countries, social protection interventions should also support migrant populations,” he added.