Fifty-six trainees graduated in the first batch. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Over 45,000 people have benefitted from an entertainment programme launched in Saudi Arabia more than a year ago, according to a Saudi official, as the kingdom’s entertainment industry is thriving.

“This figure highlights the size of high demand for the entertainment on the part of the private and government sectors and from young people who see in entertainment a big industry,” head of the Saudi state General Entertainment Authority (GEA) Turki Al Alsheikh added.

He made the remarks in a taped address to a ceremony held in the Saudi capital Riyadh to mark the graduation of the first batch in the GEA overseas scholarship programme “Entertainment Fellowship”, a branch of the “Happiness Makers” Initiative launched in September 2021.

Fifty-six trainees graduated in the first batch. Alsheikh said that the “Happiness Makers” Initiative significantly contributes to increasing the numbers of Saudis working in the “promising” entertainment sector.

'Happiness Makers'

The “Entertainment Fellowship” was launched in partnership with the US-based University of Central Florida and the Event Academy in Britain.

The “Happiness Makers” Initiative is designed to train and enable young Saudis to do specialised jobs in the entertainment industry.

The effort envisages qualifying at least 100,000 young Saudi men and women to work in the entertainment sector in the kingdom through various training courses to gain skills in crowd management and handling entertainment centres. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has sought to boost its entertainment industry, staging a string of concerts, cinema, theatrical shows and competitions that have drawn large audiences from inside and outside the kingdom.

In May 2016, the kingdom created the GEA, a state agency that has since sponsored a slew of stellar concerts, stage shows and festivals. In April 2018, Saudi Arabia reopened cinemas for the first time in nearly four decades.

As many as 120 million people have attended entertainment events staged in Saudi Arabia since 2019, Al Alsheikh has said, as the kingdom is seeking to diversify its oil-reliant economy.