Over $41bn worth of entertainment and leisure projects underway in the Middle East says ABiQ

Entertainment and leisure sector saw a return to normal in 2022 says industry expert

According to intelligence platform ABiQ, over US $41bn worth of leisure and entertainment projects are underway across the Middle East. After a few difficult years the leisure and entertainment industry, particularly in the GCC, is now regaining the growth momentum, the report noted.

“Looking back, I’d like to phrase 2022 as the grand reopening for the entertainment sector, the journey from the ‘new norm’ to the ‘back to norm’,” said Fernando Medroa, Vice President – Entertainment & Hotels for Kuwait-based Alshaya Group.

He added, “In Kuwait we’ve noticed a shift in seeking entertainment locally therein intensifying efforts by both public and private sector entities through initiatives such as Winter Wonderland, Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice, Disney Princesses and Shrek making appearances in the country.”

Commenting on Bahrain’s leisure and entertainment industry, Mohammed Khalifa, Manager, Seef Entertainment commented, “the average revenue generated by the entertainment sector ranges between $15.9mn to $21.2mn annually, and this by a country with a population of 1.7m.”

In late January 2023, Saudi Arabia’s new Event Investment Fund said it would develop 35 venues by 2030 and, in early February 2023, Majid Al Futtaim Entertainment opened Snow Oman.

Bahrain attracts significant tourist numbers with a target to attract 14.1m tourists by 2026 as part of the Kingdoms’ Economic Recovery Plan. This is expected to fuel more leisure and entertainment focused offerings, the report stated.

“Indoor entertainment centres in good locations are recording robust performance and have in most cases exceeded pre-Covid levels already. Less attractive locations have not fared quite as good,” explained Silvio Liedtke, CEO, Landmark Leisure.

He added, “Overall, longer dwell time and rise in spending indicate growth meaning customers who make their way into entertainment spaces spend more time and money than pre-Covid in the same locations. The indoor leisure and entertainment market in the GCC is at inflection point. Disruptors like VR and AR, strong IP-led product ranges and social entertainment are changing the landscape of our industry leading to a vibrant and dynamic market with new ideas, innovations and new concepts springing up almost daily.”

“It’s certainly an amazing time to see the creativity and diversity at play. Landlords are keen to fill their malls with more than just retail. The choices for customers are now enormous and will continue to grow. This of course puts pressure on the traditional FEC model to stay relevant and profitable, particularly given cost pressures on rents, utilities and staff, coupled with inflationary pressures on the asset purchasing front,” he concluded.

In early February 2023, Miral opened the Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue facility.

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