Mohammed bin Salman launches fund to develop sports, entertainment

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched of the Events Investment Fund (EIF) which aims at develop a sustainable infrastructure for the culture, tourism, entertainment and sports sectors across Saudi Arabia.

It will focus on developing and increasing direct foreign investment opportunities for a contribution of $7.45 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2045.

The fund set a goal of financing and developing more than 35 venues by 2030 and will develop indoor arenas, art galleries, theaters, conference centers as well as horse-racing and auto racing tracks, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is in line with Saudi Arabia’s strategic objectives to diversify its oil-based economy per the Vision 2030 initiative. The kingdom has invested heavily in sports, tourism and related endeavors recently.

Last week, the Saudi Public Investment Fund announced a tourism project in Diriyah that will focus on Saudi history. The sovereign wealth fund unveiled a similar project in the mountainous Aseer region last month.

The kingdom is also focusing heavily on sports events. Saudi Arabia is bidding to host the World Cup in 2030 and recently signed Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to be ambassador for the bid. The Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed LIV Golf league also continues to grow and hosted a tournament in Jeddah last October.

At the same time, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix — a Formula One motor race — also kicked off in 2021.

Saudi Arabia’s art scene is also expanding, particularly in the capital, Riyadh, and the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah.

The 35 venues by 2030 is a high target, and some of the crown price’s other goals have been criticized for being overly ambitious. This is especially true of the controversial “smart city” NEOM for facing sustainability and funding challenges.

Relatedly, the US credit rating agency Fitch predicted in October that Saudi Arabia would fall short of its tourism objectives.

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