Saudi to build its first Opera house

Violet Powell
February 23, 2018

General Entertainment Authority chief Ahmed bin Aqeel al-Khatib was quoted by local media as saying he hoped 220,000 people would be employed in the entertainment sector by the end of 2018 - up from 17,000 a year ago.

Saudi's General Entertainment Authority announced on Thursday the construction of an opera house in Riyadh, Al Arabiya reported.

In recent months, the government of the Kingdom has organized many concerts, open cinemas for the masses, allowed Saudi women to witness football matches in the stadium, allowed women to drive a vehicle, and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people are dancing in the streets enjoy the electronic music for the first time. Announcing the move, Minister for Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said he expected the theaters to open in March.

The plans include Saudi's first opera house after concerts had been banned for the past two decades. It all falls under the progressive Crown Prince's Vision 2030 program.

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It follows a range of other firsts for the conservative Gulf kingdom - including allowing women spectators to attend football matches last month and announcing that women would be permitted to drive from June.

The head of the General Entertainment Authority said 5,000 events were planned this year alone, including those by Maroon 5 and Cirque du Soleil.

The line-up for the Riyadh event has not been revealed yet and it remains unclear whether it will limited to modest designs in accordance with the strict dress code observed in Saudi Arabia.

"I don't expect the main output of MBC to change as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will think this is an important asset to control".

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