Arts & Culture

Riyadh Season 2023 targets 12 million visitors

Saudi Arabia is expecting this year’s Riyadh Season to welcome 12 million visitors, with major attractions including Tyson Fury and Saudi Pro League stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

The fourth edition of the season, which is designed to turn the Saudi capital into a global entertainment and tourist destination, will kick off on October 28 with the bout between heavyweight world champion Fury and former UFC star Francis Ngannou.

The five-month festival will also include WWE wrestling and the Riyadh Tennis Season Cup. The Riyadh Season Cup for football will include an unnamed international football club as well as Ronaldo’s Al Nassr and Neymar’s Al-Hilal.

Families can enjoy the world premiere of the Disney Castle Experience, where guests can watch live musicals and shows inspired by Disney animated movies in the surroundings of the iconic Disney Castle. House of Hype will combine real-world and virtual reality through more than 30 diverse interactive experiences.

Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which organises the festival, said: “The countdown is now on, and Riyadh Season 2023 promises to set a new benchmark for entertainment festivals. Visitors from around the world can look forward to thousands of concerts, entertainment events, dining experiences and other unique cultural events across a host of world-class venues in Riyadh.”

GEA chairman Turki Alalsheikh told Asharq News TV they are targeting one million tourists from outside the country. Some 40% of the anticipated revenue from the event has already been achieved through sponsorship deals.

Iconic events

Alalsheikh said this year’s festival could welcome more than 12 million visitors, which would be way up on the 10 million who attended the inaugural event in 2019.

Alalshikh added in a statement: “Riyadh Season has developed a reputation for staging iconic events featuring some of the biggest names and brands around, which is why people travel so far from around the world to be part of this unmatched experience.

“This year, we want to go even further and give visitors moments that will exceed even their wildest imaginations. With the events and guests we have lined up, we intend for this year’s Riyadh Season to create thrills and surprises for guests like never before.”

Riyadh Season aims to create more than 200,000 employment opportunities and empower over 2,000 local and international companies to offer their services.

The event is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which was launched in 2016 to push for a set of social and economic reforms that aimed to enhance the quality of life for residents and citizens in Saudi Arabia and diversify the economy.

According to figures released recently, GEA said its entertainment activities attracted 22 million visitors during the first half of 2023. As well as the Riyadh Season, Saudi will this month play host to American star Bruno Mars as the first performer during a new AlUla Moments campaign.

GEA said in a statement: “Given the importance of the field of entertainment and its role in strengthening social ties, and being an indicator of achieving prosperity, and well-being, GEA worked throughout the first half of this year to develop new options that enhance the participation of visitors to its activities in entertainment and festivals dedicated to games and shopping. Moreover, the events created thousands of jobs and helped the diversification of economic activities.”