Saudi Arabia soon to be a global hub for the Media and Events industry


Owing to its dramatic internet penetration, which is expected to reach 97% in 2025, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a major lifestyle shift. The country has experienced rapid digital transformation during the last few years, mainly set in motion by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 National Transformation Program.


Some of the industries to evolve at great speed in Saudi Arabia are Media, Entertainment, and Events. The modern Media and Entertainment industry includes Press, Print media, Digital media, Publishing, Television, Radio, Advertising, Public Relations, Video Gaming, Social Media, and more. A country like Saudi Arabia with a high purchasing power, the highest population in the Middle East (of over 34 million), steady consumer optimism, and a largely underserved market are some of the leading factors why the entertainment and the events industry has been a major area of focus in the nation’s strategic plan for the next decade.


The Kingdom plans to invest USD 64 billion over the next few years to promote and diversify the scope of this industry, according to the General Entertainment Authority (GEA). GEA, which was created in May 2016 as one of the primary initiatives of Vision 2030, is tasked with organizing and developing the entertainment sector and supporting the infrastructure required for the industry to thrive.


To tap into the potential of this large market and to drive significant economic growth from the media, entertainment, and events industry, the government is focused on attracting international investment in these sectors. To encourage this, the Ministry of Culture and Information (MoCI) and GEA are working toward building local media expertise in Saudi Arabia while helping locally established entertainment businesses spread their reach and influence in the international markets.


Transformation of the Media and Entertainment landscape in KSA


The opening of commercial cinemas in December 2017 for the first time in 35 years was an indication of the revolution the entertainment sector was about to undergo in KSA. Over 300 licensed cinemas are estimated to be operational by 2030 creating tons of employment opportunities. GEA has signed contracts with National Geographic, Six Flags, Cirque Du Soleil, and IMG Artists to enable entertainment venues and operations throughout the Kingdom.


The soaring number of internet users in the country which stands at over 32 million, has compelled almost every industry in the Kingdom to look toward digital transformation, to stay relevant, increase accessibility, and meet the evolving needs of this largely young market. Media and events industry is no exception to this challenge. The traditional media companies that were essentially limited to print, radio, and television are now aggressively moving toward digitizing their content and using online platforms to suit the needs of the Saudi market, which is one of the fastest growing digital consumer markets in the world.


What the future holds for Media and Events industry in Saudi Arabia


Digital content and social media are leading the transformation in the media and entertainment sectors in Saudi Arabia. KSA is one of the largest social media markets in the middle-eastern region. The leading social media platforms in the Kingdom are YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. According to a latest Business Insider article, Saudi Arabia is the most twitter-crazy country in the world, as Twitter is emerging as one of the most popular platforms for media consumption and national conversations.


The revenue from the Digital Media market in Saudi Arabia is predicted to reach USD 970 million in 2021. One of the largest segments of this market is Video Gaming, which is estimated to share a market volume of USD 576 million by the end of the year 2021.


To boost innovation in media and entertainment, Saudi Arabia is welcoming entrepreneurs to establish media companies in the land. There’s a wide scope for innovative technology solutions at places of pilgrims and cultural heritages across the country as well as in the events sector.


Vision 2030 aims at developing new cultural and entertainment destinations such as Saudi Media City that will be indicative of the aspirations of citizens of Saudi Arabia. The strategic national plan also outlines the support to be provided to writers, authors, and directors, empowering them to reflect the changes in the modern Saudi Arabian society through their work.


Some of the goals planned for the media industry in the next few years is to have over 16,000 media jobs in the country, grow the GDP of media companies, and increase the revenue from this sector from 17% to 42% in the national economy.


How to set up a Media or Events company in Saudi Arabia


Media and entertainment companies from across the world can now set up a 100% foreign owned company in KSA. After you decide the type of legal entity your business would be—Joint Stock Company (JSC), Limited Liability Company (LLC), or Foreign Company Branch, these are the major steps you need to follow:


1. Getting a Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) license

2. Getting the Commercial Registration (CR) issued

3. Registering a national address

4. Opening the bank account


You can read about the complete company set-up process here. You can also refer to this guide published by the Ministry of Media to learn more about the licenses you’ll need depending on the media products and services your business offers.


The Augustus Media success story


AstroLabs was fortunate to partner with Augustus, a digital media holding company, to help them with setting up their base and operations in Saudi Arabia and launching Lovin Saudi in September 2017. Lovin Saudi is a media platform that captures the global and local trends in lifestyle, news, latest developments in business and technology, and translates them into captivating, engaging, and more importantly, entertaining content for digital media consumers in the Kingdom.


Their content has been seen and loved by millions on visual, audio, and text platforms. In February 2019, Augustus added yet another feather to its media cap in the form of SMASHI TV, which is a business news network covering the most innovative products, services, and technologies. In their own words, “SMASHI is a mindset, it’s for the driven, the dreamers, and the doers.”


AstroLabs helps businesses such as Augustus to establish a 100% foreign owned company in the Kingdom. If you are looking to expand your business to KSA, get in touch with us to know more about the process and how we can help you.

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