Digital transformation forms a primary comprehensive and strategic undertaking embraced by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) in aims to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of the Saudi entertainment sector and position it at the forefront of regional and global entertainment industries as per the directives outlined in Saudi Vision 2030 seeking to create joy, enhance the quality of life, and support a robust national economy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Entertainment Portal is regarded as an icon of the sector’s digital transformation endeavor’s, and is one of the most prominent national digital initiatives with a proven track record of success and relevance. GEA has diligently developed its digital infrastructure with the purpose of augmenting the Saudi entertainment sector through efficient entertainment services that target investors and smoothly aid licensing procedures for entertainment activities.
GEA established its Entertainment Portal to act as a comprehensive digital platform that facilitates licensing requests and permit and accreditation applications for activities and specialized entertainment offerings. It also empowers GEA’s role as a regulator and developer of the Saudi entertainment industry and connects its services with those from other relevant government authorities.
Currently, the Portal serves as a dynamic platform supporting the development of Saudi entertainment offerings through facilitating the process for those interested in pursuing entertainment services, including investors, entrepreneurs, large organizations, SMEs, and startups, enabling them to view guidelines and requirements needed to work in this vital sector regarded as a major contributor to a diversified national economy, an enhanced non-oil local content, and a growing local GPD.
The Portal offers four main services including “Venue Owners” which pertains to owners of venues including theme parks, entertainment centers, and event halls encompassing varied spaces dedicated to entertainment activities that are geared towards families and individuals from different age groups. Such activities include all types of games, shows, hobby centers with social, cultural, and entertainment activities, and maze and puzzle rooms.
The second service is “Event Organizers” which is dedicated to venues hosting events including live Shows, festivals, entertainment exhibitions, as well as organizers and event supervision providers. They do not include ticket sales or crowd management activities.
The third service offered by the Entertainment Portal is “Suppliers Services”, which allows users to register and search GEA’s extensive platform and view activities that directly or indirectly serve the entertainment sector, such as marketing and selling entertainment event tickets electronically or through selling points, enabling visitors to select and reserve seats, planning and executing crowd management services at venues, organizing, assisting, and directing visitors, evacuation and emergency procedures, crisis management, and devising security plans and managing security at venues in cooperation with security authorities. Other services include managing and training artistic talents, actors, and performers at live shows, managing venues, and appointing technicians to various venue services. This service, according to global classifications, includes operating music and theater halls as well as other facilities and venues.
The last service, “Restaurants and Cafés Live Shows Permit”, is dedicated to approving performances at said venues, such as live instrument playing, singing, and stand-up comedy shows. GEA swiftly issues all permits and licenses digitally and for free, through fully-automated and rapid procedures, services, and internal processes.
GEA’s digital Portal is meant to encourage entertainment activities and expand promising investment opportunities by attracting the attention of global, regional, and local entertainment entities towards Saudi Arabia, thus taking the Kingdom’s entertainment industry to new heights on par with world-class standards, an attainment that will generate numerous job opportunities for young Saudi men and women throughout different entertainment projects.
Figures and statistics realized by GEA’s digital Entertainment Portal underscore the significant developments accomplished by the sector in enriching the entertainment scene in line with top global standards in what fulfills the needs of all segments of Saudi society and creates new entertainment opportunities that unleash economic growth and instill entertainment as a way of life for local communities.
The number of licenses issued to investors, entrepreneurs, and companies by the Entertainment Portal since its inception and until today hit 1,082 licenses categorized as follows: 18 for theme parks, 195 for entertainment sectors, 3 for event venues, 418 for training and managing artistic and entertainment talents, and 448 for operating entertainment venues. Similarly, the number of permits issued by the Portal to date reached 3,236 permits, with 1,937 for organizing entertainment event, 216 for entertainment shows, 1,083 for live shows at restaurants and cafes with 2,543 registered facilities, including 1274 entertainment event organizers, 1089 restaurants and cafes, 89 service providers, 37 event organizers and service providers, 39 event ticket providers, and 15 event venues.
In this context, GEA revealed the number of procedures completed by its digital Portal to be 23,238 procedures, with 10,541 applications. GEA also offers a number of post-licensing support services for investors, entrepreneurs, and companies, including customs clearance, completing work and recruitment visas, and addressing complaints, inquiries, and suggestions.
The Entertainment Portal has successfully supported the sector’s digital transformation journey through providing licenses, permits, and accreditations required to run entertainment services – a step regarded as a remarkable digital achievement. GEA solidified its significant role in supporting digital transformation in the Kingdom by achieving ISO/IEC 20000 certification for the excellence of its information technology (IT) service management framework from the British Standards Institution (BSI), which is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization. This milestone highlights GEA’s top performance in technical solutions, which contribute to developing the entertainment sector’s framework in line with global standards.
Another achievement is the selection of the Entertainment Portal from among 800 digital initiatives by the National Committee for Digital Transformation responsible for devising plans and strategies for public entities. This highlights the Portal’s role as premier player within Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation efforts, and is testament to the colossal leap it achieved in contributing to the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey and sustainable economic growth strategy.