Saudi Arabia is seeing a massive transformation as all of its industries are modernising rapidly. These modernising efforts are being carried out in order to realise the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Talking about Saudi Arabia’s film and entertainment industry, it has been a dull one because of various religious restrictions in the country. It was only in 2006 that the Kingdom made its first movie Keif al-Hal? that was actually shot in the UAE and featured a Jordanian actress in the lead role. In 2012, Wadjda was released featuring an all-Saudi cast. It became the first movie to be fully shot in Saudi Arabia.
However, trends in the Kingdom seem to be changing now as the country is stepping into a new phase embracing modern forms of performing arts.On 28 September 2016, Saudi Arabia welcomed the world-famous performing arts group ‘iLuminate’ in Jeddah. The New York-based dance group introduced the world’s first wearable wireless lighting system and rose to fame after its appearance on the sixth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT). Having fused LED lighting technology with dance and music, the group won the third prize in AGT.
Until 8 October 2016, iLuminate had its show at Riyadh’s princess Nourah University and at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. The show will further run until 22 October 2016. For the performances that already took place, iLumnati saw a massive response from the Saudis. Families, children, men and women, all enjoyed and appreciated the group’s talent. Among the large audience were VIP faces including Amir Ramzan, British Council Country Director; Matthias J. Mitman, US Consul General; Gledisa Sanxhaku and Inga Litvinsky of the US Consulate in Jeddah; Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News Editor in Chief; and Weam Al-Dakheel, Saudi TV news anchor.
“Saudi Arabians are really enjoying iLuminate’s performances, all thanks to the General Authority for Entertainment.”
The excitement for and warm welcome of modern arts and entertainment in Saudi Arabia is the fruit of the General Authority for Entertainment’s (GAE) efforts. Established just a few months ago, GAE has been looking out for interesting ways to entertain Saudis. The reaction of the audience shows that they were craving for entertainment and they love it in any form, including dance, music, and theatres.
As of now, the country has only one theatre, which is in Khobar. So yes, access to entertainment in the form of movies is still limited. Nonetheless, efforts by the GAE are likely to bring some new sources of entertainment in Saudi Arabia. These efforts will be further pushed by the active, educated, young-adults of Saudi.