A Disney ice skating show was held in Riyadh this month. Image Credit: Source: Riyadh Season

Cairo: Entertainment events held across Saudi Arabia have attracted around 135 million people until mid-2023 this year, the kingdom’s entertainment agency has said, as the country is seeking to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

The events were staged in 120 cities, according to head of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) Turki Alalsheikh.

Over 14,000 licences have also been issued for entertainment activities while 4,500 facilities have been licensed to implement entertainment activities and supportive services since the GEA onset, the official said in a post marking the Saudi National Day.

GEA this month said it has expanded its entertainment activities and reached 22 million visitors during the first half of 2023.

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 GEA, a state agency that has since sponsored a slew of stellar concerts, stage shows and festivals.

A flagship festival is the Riyadh Season, the fourth edition of which is set to be unveiled next month.

Earlier this month, Alalsheikh expected that up to 12 million people will attend the Riyadh Season due to kick off on October 28.

“We target 1 million tourists from outside the kingdom,” he told Asharq News TV.

He added that 40 per cent of the anticipated revenue from the event has already been achieved through sponsorship deals.

“The opening will be historic and unprecedented. We’ll surprise the world,” he added.

This year’s Riyadh Season will feature a 28 October showdown between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou in what is dubbed the “Battle of the Baddest”.

Launched in 2019, the Riyadh season is meant to turn the Saudi capital into as a global entertainment and tourist destination.

The second edition of the festival kicked off in October 2021 after it was suspended the previous year due to the global pandemic.