Saudi Crown Prince launches Events Investment Fund as part of diversification push

With Prince Mohammed bin Salman as chairman, fund is designed to develop infrastructure for culture, tourism, entertainment and sports

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will become chairman of the new Events Investment Fund. AFP
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched Events Investment Fund (EIF) to boost the kingdom's tourism and entertainment sectors as part of its diversification strategy.

EIF, which will be chaired by Prince Mohammed with an initial capitalisation of 14 billion Saudi riyals ($3.7 billion), aims to develop a sustainable infrastructure for the culture, tourism, entertainment and sports sectors, an official statement on Tuesday said.

EIF will conceptualise, finance and oversee the development of more than 35 venues by 2030. Its assets will include indoor arenas, art galleries, theatres and conference centres, horse-racing tracks, auto racing tracks and other event facilities.

The fund aims to deliver its first asset by 2023, the statement said.

It will further raise capital by providing “lucrative high-return opportunities” to the private sector and financial institutions.

“The aim of EIF is to position the kingdom as the global hub in these various event sectors, to provide world-class sustainable infrastructure for the delivery of a national events calendar and to create sustainable financial returns to support the kingdom’s economic diversification efforts,” the statement said.

The fund also aims to create partnerships to boost local industry, increase foreign investment and contribute to Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter of oil, is diversifying its economy away from hydrocarbons and has introduced initiatives under Vision 2030 which focus on the manufacturing, tourism, technology and entertainment industries, among others.

Tourism is expected to be a major non-oil growth driver, providing investment opportunities as Saudi Arabia aims to attract 100 million visitors a year by 2030.

The kingdom hopes to become a top-five destination by 2030, as its opens up to foreign tourism and investment.

This month, the Ministry of Investment said 3.6 million foreign tourists visited the kingdom during the second quarter of 2022. Visitors to Saudi Arabia spent 27 billion riyals ($7.19 billion) during the first six months of the year.

EIF will support the contribution of the tourism sector to annual gross domestic product to reach more than 10 per cent by 2030, from its current rate of 3 per cent, the statement said.

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The kingdom is also boosting its entertainment offerings.

In November, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), a wholly owned unit of the Public Investment Fund, said it is planning to invest 50 billion riyals to develop 21 integrated entertainment destinations in 14 Saudi cities.

The new destinations will be developed in partnership with major international brands such as Clip ‘n Climb, Warner Bros Discovery, Mattel, known for its Hot Wheels brand, and Hasbro.

In line with the kingdom's diversification plan, the EIF will focus on increasing direct foreign investment opportunities for a GDP impact of 28 billion riyals by 2045, the statement said.

It will also boost collaboration between the private and public sectors, develop a “supportive environment” for partnership in the events industry and increase the number of job opportunities for citizens.

EIF will also support the kingdom’s quality of life programme, which aims to improve the quality of life for individuals and families by developing the necessary sustainable venues.

The EIF’s vision follows the strategy of the kingdom's National Development Fund, which seeks to stimulate a threefold increase in the private sector's impact on the kingdom's economy by 2030.

Updated: January 17, 2023, 12:52 PM