Saudi Arabia announced plans Wednesday to build an entertainment complex in the capital Riyadh, the latest in a series of state-backed efforts to encourage public leisure activities after decades of tight social restrictions. The 100,000 square meter complex will be developed by the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (SEVEN), a wholly owned subsidiary of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.
The project will feature sports activities, live performances, restaurants and cinemas, it said.
The statement did not specify the value of the investment.
The Public Investment Fund established SEVEN last year with initial funding of 10 billion riyals ($2.67 billion) and hired former Disney executive Bill Ernest to run it.
The company aims to set up about 20 entertainment centers around the country over the next several years, as Saudi Arabia tries to use the leisure sector in order to create jobs, liberalize social norms and diversify the economy beyond oil exports.
SEVEN has already opened the kingdom’s first cinema in nearly four decades, in partnership with U.S. based AMC Group, and hopes to attract private companies to invest alongside it at all of its projects.
The Daily Star