Cooperation between govt departments a must for ‘recreation’ success

Cooperation between govt departments a must for ‘recreation’ success

Saudi Vision 2030

Fatima Muhammad FOLLOWING the announcement of the setting up of a recreation commission, Saudis have begun expressing their hopes and expectations of what they want from this commission. Some want the commission to develop and ease regulations for investments in this sector. While others hope that this commission provides job opportunities for youth in different projects. People with special too expressed their optimism that the new statutory body would keep them in their ambit by providing facilities and activities that are suitable for them. Abdul Rahman Al-Murshid, a columnist at Al-Youm Arabic newspaper, said some of the specializations of this new recreation commission overlaps with that of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and the Ministry of Information. Therefore, the commission will need time and effort to put in place a proper strategy that would prove valuable for the aspirant youth. The overlap, he said, is the Art and Culture Society is run under the supervision of the Ministry of Information while travel and tourism activities are run by the SCTH. He suggested transferring art and cultural events to this new commission, which should be the umbrella for all entertainment activities. According to him what is crucial is to change the concept of how Saudi families see entertainment, which, for most of them, is only traveling abroad. He added: “Even middle income families should enjoy a share of entertainment at affordable prices.” Mohammad Tawfiq Ballo from Ibsar Foundation for visually impaired people said that they hoped that the new body would be an effective commission that organizes a national program for entertainment. “We want public museums, hotels, resorts and facilities that is accessible for all including people with special needs and aging people,” said Ballo. The development of the entertainment sector he said shall help the community practice public activities in a modern way and in accordance with the Saudi culture. Yasir Al-Buhaijan, an opinion writer, noted that there is a need for cooperation between various government departments and also between the private and public sector to develop entertainment locations inside districts. He further added that the development of the entertainment sector will provide job opportunities for Saudi youth in various locations and sectors and therefore it will cut the unemployment rate and improve living conditions. An investor in the tourism sector Khalid Al-Ghamdi hoped that this commission would ease regulations in investing in the tourism section. He anticipated that the commission would be responsible for events that take place in cities like festivals being held at shopping center or over the summer. He added the commission would need to diversify the activities, investment and the development opportunities to meet the goals of the Vision 2030. Saudi youth on social media too put their hopes and points on their various social media platforms following the announcement of this new commission. Many have called on officials at the commission to consider their needs and provide entertainment locations for youth just like families. Others suggested cities that can provide potential entertainment destinations like Jeddah, Abha and Taif that can attract not only Saudis but even visitors from outside the country. Some wanted music to come back on stage, others wanted encouragement and staging of more art exhibitions, theaters, cinema and public parks. Others, however, believe that the Saudi society should respect its private nature and seek entertainment within boundaries of Shariah. But the announcement triggered a host of suggestions that were laced with hopes and anticipation. Hadeel Khalid, a 23-year-old university student said that she hopes that the commission starts interesting activities this summer. “We have a very long summer and this is the best opportunity for the new commission to implement its strategies and organize activates for all age groups and in different regions.” In the long run, Hadeel said, she wants to see more open areas where she can enjoy the weather and exercise a bit when Jeddah’s climate gets cool, especially during December and January. “We have enough restaurants and malls, and entertainment is not about that only.” Faiz Bar, a fresh marketing graduate, noted that young Saudi men are more excited about this commission than anyone else in the society. “We are desperate to have our own places where we can go without the typical ‘family only’ cliché. We would like to have our share as well, the new commission should allocate places for us where we can practice our hobbies and are places of entertainment.” Amal Saleh a mother of two and a regular visitor to Dubai, said that she wants the new commission to take the Dubai experience and move forward with new construction plans to transform entertainment in the Kingdom. “I have visited both Taif and Abha the two can provide great destinations. What we need is just promote for our own country, enhance quality at different resorts and reduce prices.” Abdul Rahman Al-Rifai, a human resource officer, noted that he wants his family to get edutainment. “Yes we want entertainment but we also want our children to learn. This will require establishing a public zoo, libraries, museums, and national parks.”