The Big Business of Riyadh Season: GEA Nets $270 Million from Entertainment Push

The chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) in Saudi Arabia said that the Kingdom’s “Riyadh Season” of events has generated more than SR1 billion ($270 million) for the GEA, according to Arab News.

“Turki Al Sheikh said the figure represented initial income from the season, while indirect revenues over the festival period made via the Saudi payments system, Mada, exceeded SR4 billion ($1 billion),” Arab News reports.

Riyadh Season is one of 11 Saudi Seasons that aim to promote Saudi Arabia tourism as well as enhance the quality of life for the people of the Kingdom. Global entertainment acts, sporting events, and shows have descended on Riyadh and other parts of Saudi Arabia to bring frequent live entertainment events to a place that had none of them less than a few months ago.

This year, the Kingdom opened up to tourists, successfully issuing its first tourist e-visas for outside visitors. From start to finish, tourist visas can be acquired in as little as 30 minutes – an impressive reduction in the time it previously took to receive a business or work visa. It can be done entirely online through a smooth digital portal operated by the Saudi government, including payment and even delivering the visa to applicants by email or WhatsApp in just a few minutes.

In addition to tourism dollars, Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow tourists opens the Kingdom’s society, heritage, and natural wonders to the outside world.