Saudi Arabia eyes global tie-ups to tap $20 billion in cultural opportunities
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is seeking partnership with global partners, including leading international museums, as it sees its culture sector generating $20 billion in revenues and creating 100,000 jobs, while contributing 3 per cent to its gross domestic product (GDP), Arab News quoted a senior official, as saying.
In the wake of the G20 meeting last year, Saudi Arabia added culture to the forefront of its investment agenda. The Ministry of Culture, which was established three years ago on the hope of promoting cultural growth and supporting Vision 2030, sees that the sector had already attracted the interest and engagement of private companies both locally and abroad, Rakan Altouq, head of strategy and policy at the Saudi Ministry of Culture, said, in an interview.
In addition to the public sector, the private sector is a vital contributor to cultural development and Saudi Arabia will benefit from this new strategy, as it will lead to an increase in its economy. As part of the Ministry of Culture, all 16 sectors with 11 dedicated commissions are engaged now to prepare the groundwork for the economic activity.
The Cultural Development Fund, created by the Ministry of Culture last year, is also a vital tool for bridging the financial gap that exists between the public and private sector funding for cultural programmes. By using the Cultural Development Fund, a bridge of capital will be provided, he said.
Through Invest Saudi and the Shareek programme that has been announced across the private sector engagement in Saudi Arabia, all of the targets they have developed cannot be achieved without the private capital, and they are contributing to creating the right conditions for capital to invest in the culture sector.
Altouq said that the culture sector should not be evaluated in the same way as other more publicly-owned sectors. The non-profit organisations conduct many private activities, such as the visual arts sector, in the country. Further opportunities exist for establishing infrastructure in digital platforms; such investments had already been initiated by media and other regional companies.
In the museum sector, the ministry has held numerous discussions with its global partners. Soon, the dedicated museum of Saudi Arabia will launch its strategy and seek partnerships with other museums around the world. The Museum Commission will launch its own communication strategy in the coming months to further develop that.
In the national cultural strategy, three main aspirations are outlined: culture as a way of life, culture as an economic growth tool, and culture as an exchange mechanism among cultures.
As a first step, culture has been developed as a lifestyle in Saudi Arabia through connecting local communities to ensure that all citizens and residents have access to an extraordinary range of diverse cultural offerings in the region, while preserving the rich cultural heritage.
As for the culture for economic growth, culture will be seen in creative industries, which will allow Saudi Arabia to witness an increase in its GDP by 3 per cent by 2030. Lastly, culture for global exchange is engaging the kingdom and participating in international platforms such as the G20 and UNESCO.
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