By Youssef Al-Muhaimeed
ACCORDING to the Data and Tourist Research Center (DTC) of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), the Saudis spent more than SR7 billion during their weekend tourism in Bahrain last year.
On the same line, tickets for the singing night of the two Saudi singers Mohammed Abdu and Rashid Al-Majed were sold out in a day at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh.
This is a clear indication that people were longing for gala nights and are keen to attend the singing parties.
On the other hand, video clips on the social media showed that the stage in Dammam where the fourth Saudi Film Festival was held was overflowing with people.
Again this is an explicit indication that people have unquenched passion for all forms of art including movie films though the festival showed films for the elite not the public.
The activities organized by the General Authority for Entertainment during the past two months, despite their meagerness, showed that people were thirsty for recreation and were looking for the happiness which has been absent for a long time.
This tells us that people travel to the neighboring countries looking for entertainment such as singing nights, cinema, theater and other recreational activities.
If these activities were held inside, they would bring joy to the families and the Saudis would not need travel out of their country for entertainment.
The Saudis would not have to crowd the outlets in their rush for travel and would not have to race for the short travel.
They would not have also spent billions of riyals outside the borders of their own country on tourism and entertainment.
I believe that the time is ripe to implement many local cultural, tourist and entertainment programs which were earlier considered difficult inside our country.
We can easily and successfully organize singing nights, establish cinema houses in malls and shopping centers as it is the case in a number of GCC countries.
The responsibility lies on the shoulders of the General Authority for Entertainment to establish the basic infrastructure needed for these activities.
The authority should be innovative and creative and should not copy the experiences of the others. It should, rather, start from where they ended.
It is a rare opportunity for the authority to benefit from the experiment of other countries of the world without copying them to the letter.
The authority should embark on the tourist, cultural and entertainment activities which will attract both the citizens and the expatriates especially that such activities were not available in the past.
By so doing the authority will kill two birds with one stone: it will make the people of the Kingdom happy and at the same time increase the level of the GDP.
This will be in line with the National Transformation Program and the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.
It will also help entice the tourist, cultural and entertainment sector to work together as an integrated entity which will help diversify the sources of income which we despeately need.