Kingdom’s surging entertainment sector in the spotlight

Empowering women in entertainment sector, advancement of entertainment industry on the cards at SLS Summit & Expo

RIYADH: From tackling the environmental impact of shows to spotlighting women in the events industry, the Saudi Light and Sound Expo will look at how the Kingdom’s entertainment industry can stay ahead of the curve, while mapping the industry’s future, and highlighting the biggest trends and challenges.

The SLS Expo, taking place from May 28-30 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, will be the first dedicated event in Saudi Arabia for professional AV and lighting equipment specialists, and will feature exhibitors from the pro-lighting and audio, live events, digital signage, AI, laser technology, and stage technology sector.

More than 15 interactive debates, fireside chats, presentations, case studies and panel discussions from industry experts will be included in the summit.

As the Kingdom hosts growing numbers of international sports events, art exhibitions and live concerts with international performers, there is a rising demand for AV technology to support its burgeoning entertainment industry, which was worth an estimated $308 million at the end of last year, according to Statista, the online market and consumer data platform.

Amid plans for the Kingdom to invest $64 billion in the entertainment industry over the next decade, there is a significant demand for AV technology, professional lighting equipment, and theater and cinema operators to support the ambitious entertainment goals, and the rising demand will be the focus of this year’s SLS Expo.

“With the Kingdom hosting over 120 million people at events in the last four years, the country is looking to fast track plans in its events and entertainment industry, and the SLS Summit and Expo will look to showcase these advancements,” said Mohammed Faisal, event manager at DMG Events, organizers of the expo.

The Kingdom continues to create the fundamentals for a vibrant entertainment sector, with 11,136 licenses issued for entertainment and supporting events since 2019, according to the Saudi General Entertainment Authority.

Global professional services firm Ernst & Young recently said that MENA governments, such as Saudi Arabia, have demonstrated strong support for entertainment as part of goals to invest in their non-oil economies. The company predicted that by 2030, the entertainment industry will create over 100,000 jobs with a 3 percent impact on the Kingdom’s economic output.

“Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming the most important entertainment market in the region,” said Koert Vermeulen, principal designer and owner of ACTLD, and one of the speakers at the expo.

The summit will also take a closer look at women in the events industry, with the country putting several initiatives in place to empower and encourage women to join the public and private sector.

“I am thrilled to be taking part in the executive session, ‘Women in the events industry,’ and I hope that it will help shine a spotlight on the wonderful opportunities available for women,” said Debbie Kristiansen, general manager of Exhibition World Bahrain and one of the speakers at the expo.

Topics include trending and future tools for interactive installations and audience engagement, design principles and techniques for creating shows, a sound-storm case study, and sound engineering and design for immersive experiences.

Other speakers include Mark Reeves, head of entertainment and events at 6 Flags Qiddiya; and Michael Jobson, executive director, MDL Beast.

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