The emir of Makkah and advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, issued a ministerial decree that Saudi citizens, both men, and women, employed in the private sector in all governorates across the province must wear traditional Saudi attire at workplaces.
He also assigned the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and representatives of the emirate to continuously check if the new decision is effectively implemented in the region, especially in shops and commercial centers.
The ruling came after the emir’s inspection team noticed two Saudi men working in shops in Taif dressed in clothes different from the traditional Saudi attire due to dress code implemented by their company, explained Sulthan Al-Dosary, spokesman of the emirate, regarding the emir’s directive.
“The emir then constituted a committee to carry out studies about the reasons why companies were forcing Saudis to wear non-Saudi dresses. The emir’s directive came in line with the recommendations of the committee,” he added.
The Saudi Arabian stock market escalated to a 32-month high as Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) closed trading at 8,050.30 points on Monday.
TASI rose to more than the psychologically important 8,000-point mark for the first time since August 2015 and analysts credited this surge to the confidence investors gained from higher oil prices and easing anxieties in the region after US-led strikes on Syria.
Since January 2018, TASI has shown a positive growth gaining 11.4 percent as the Kingdom is preparing for the biggest IPO in its history by selling up to 5 percent of Saudi Aramco.
Muhammed Zidan, market analyst at Thinkmarket in Dubai believes that it is the combination of positive factors that pushed investor sentiment higher. “Oil prices are holding high above $70 a barrel while geopolitical tensions have eased after Saturday’s US strike on Syria”, he added.
He further explained that all indications showed an upsurge in funds flowing into the Saudi Arabian market since the global FTSE Russell index granted it secondary emerging market status last month.
Saudi Arabia is on the run to achieve its dream economic transformation plan, Vision 2030, and is undertaking several reforms to diversify its economy and one major focus is on the tourism and entertainment sector.
A panel of experts who are set to meet at the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference on 2-3 May 2018 noted that entertainment and culture will be the most sought-after investment sector in the Kingdom within a few years.
The Conference, held in association with the Ministry of Finance, will study how the growth of this new sector has contributed to the Kingdom’s economy, employment opportunities and investment prospects for foreign investors.
The Kingdom has already set aside $64 billion for the growth of arts, tourism, and entertainment over the next 10 years and expects a boom in the entertainment and cultural sector.
Established in 2016 to revolutionize the Kingdom, the General Entertainment Authority has already had a transformative impact on the Saudi Arabian economy and culture by hosting more than 2,000 successful events like jazz festivals, operas, Saudi Fashion Week and even monster truck rallies in just one year.
As the 35-year old ban on cinemas came to an end as part of the Kingdom’s liberalization drive, international entertainment companies have begun to establish their presence in the Kingdom to operate cinemas. In addition, globally renowned amusement park companies like Six Flags have announced their grand entry to the Kingdom in a few years adding to the growth of entertainment sector in the Kingdom.
Victoria Behn, Euromoney Conference’s Director of the Middle East and Africa, stated “There is international interest in the growth of Saudi Arabia’s cultural sector both from a social perspective and also as a significant investment opportunity. It has provided one of the most visible signs of change taking place in the Kingdom and is also a fascinating case study in the financial contribution that arts and entertainment can make to an economy”.
The addition of entertainment investment to the Conference’s agenda this year in addition to sessions on debt and equity capital markets, small and medium businesses, real estate, and the state of the wider global economy in 2018, reflects both the growing diversity of the Saudi economy as well as Euromoney Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the regional financial sector.
As part of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s Paris visit, 20 economic pacts worth $18 billion were signed between Saudi Arabia and France, reported Al Arabiya TV.
MoUs were inked between Saudi And French companies in several sectors including energy, petrochemicals, trade, aviation, water treatment, tourism, health, agricultural and cultural activities.
State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco entered into a major agreement with French petrochemical giant Total. The first deal worth $7.2 billion is to establish a new petrochemical complex in collaboration with SATORP, and the other is a trade agreement worth $3 billion.
Another agreement was signed in the aviation sector between Saudi Arabia’s Fly NAS and General Electric-Safran to establish a $5.5 billion joint venture between General Electric and Saudi-based Safran for manufacturing plane engines.
In addition, Saudi Crown Prince and French President Macron discussed a “strategic partnership” that could lead to a contract when Macron visits Saudi Arabia by the end of 2018.
Saudi Arabia will open its first cinema in over three decades on April 18 in Riyadh, after the ban on cinema was lifted last year as part of the Kingdom’s liberalization drive.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) partnered with US movie exhibition company AMC Entertainment Holdings to explore and invest in cinema business in the Kingdom.
The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information granted a license to AMC Entertainment to open 40 cinemas across 15 Saudi cities over the next five years.
“AMC plans to open the Kingdom’s first cinema theatre in Riyadh on April 18,”, the information ministry’s Centre for International Communication said in a statement.
The cinemas will not be segregated by gender like several other public places in the Kingdom and the first screening will be Marvel’s superhero movie “Black Panther”, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.
To serve a population of more than 32 million, most of whom are under the age of 30, Saudi Arabia plans to set up around 350 cinemas with more than 2,500 screens across the Kingdom by 2030.
The reforms are part of an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the Kingdom reels from an oil crash since 2014 and cinemas are expected to generate a revenue of more than $1 billion in ticket sales annually.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) signed an agreement with globally renowned amusement park company, Six Flags, to design and develop a Six Flags-branded amusement park in Riyadh amid wide-ranging social reforms in the Kingdom.
Six Flags will design, develop and license the Six Flags brand for Qiddiya, the Kingdom’s first entertainment, sports and cultural spot, which is located 40 km away from the center of Riyadh and is set to open in 2022.
The deal will probably include three parks, the first of which will open in 2020 or 2021, Executive Chairman Jim Reid-Anderson said. In addition to the park in Qiddiya, the others, each costing around $300 to $500 million to construct, are set to be built in Jeddah and at a resort elsewhere in the western Red Sea coast.
“Qiddiya, a key project within the Kingdom’s entertainment sector, will play an important role in the development of Saudi Arabia’s economy and the realization of the ambitions of Vision 2030. The first Six Flags-branded amusement park in the Kingdom forms another part of the development of the sector which will help to create jobs and opportunities for young Saudi people.”, stated PIF about the deal.
“We see great potential in the Saudi Arabian market and look forward to collaborating with PIF to create a world-class entertainment destination for Saudi Arabia’s young and dynamic population”, David McKillips, President of Six Flags International Development Company commented on the agreement.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) confirmed that around 83 percent of jobs in shops selling women’s accessories and dress have been feminized and nationalized.
The Ministry’s official spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail informed that field inspectors have been organizing inspection tours in malls, commercial centers, and shops across the country to evaluate the extent to which the ministry’s decision to feminize and nationalize jobs in shops selling women’s accessories have been put into action. Of the 96,000 establishments inspected, over 79,300 establishments have adhered to the government’s decision while 16,400, which is around 17 percent, have not.
The field inspectors discovered 13,300 violations during their examinations. 31 percent of the violations, representing 4,200 cases, failed to Saudize jobs while 55 percent (7,300 cases) violators failed to feminize jobs in their establishments.
Earlier in November 2017, the third phase of feminization and Saudization of jobs in shops involved in the sale of women accessories was launched. It included shops selling perfumes, shoes, stockings, bags, ready-made garments, kiosks selling women’s accessories, stand-alone shops selling wedding gowns, abayas, garments, child-care and pharmaceutical items.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) announced in a statement that the regulations for tourist visas have been completed in cooperation with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and submitted to higher government authorities for further approval, the Center of International Communication (CIC) quoted.
The new regulations were formulated and reviewed in a series of intensive meetings and workshops with relevant government authorities, investors, tourism and transport workers, and groups of service providers.
A specialized team, under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, has developed an integrated electronic system to carry out all visa related processes in government and private agencies.
SCTH is working in accordance with the National Tourism Development Strategy, formulated in 2004, to develop and popularize tourist visas that had earlier been granted for a limited period. The statement added that the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program 2020 has adopted tourist visa as one of its key initiatives with high economic feasibility.
Earlier this year, Prince Sultan Bin Salman, the President of SCTH told that the Kingdom is making big strides towards attracting tourists from abroad and affirmed its commitment to local values and culture.
With the growth of its tourism sector, Kingdom aims to create more job opportunities and diversify its revenue beyond oil and thereby contribute to Saudi Arabia’s dream program Vision 2030.