Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry has a potential valuation of around $1 billion, said Alireza Zaimi, an executive director and head of corporate finance at the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund (SWF).
The Kingdom’s entertainment sector has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years as reforms have opened up the sector. In December 2020, the music festival MDL Beast, held in Riyadh, broke global records, and in 2018 authorities allowed cinemas to open for the first time in 37 years.
“We have a very fine local partner in the Public Investment Fund,” said Adom Aron, CEO of AMC Cinemas in October on the expansion of cinemas across Saudi Arabia. “Working together, the AMC and the PIF are going to bring cinemas across the Kingdom.”
It’s through developing untapped sectors like entertainment that the Kingdom has been able to “create the growth that you don’t normally read about,” Zaimi said.
The PIF is the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030 program that seeks to change the fund into a giant investment vehicle to support the Kingdom’s economic diversification away from oil.
“The mandate of PIF is to create [a] second stream of revenue for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Zaimi said.
He also noted that one of the key performance indicators used to track the fund is job creation in Saudi Arabia. “We have been mandated to create 20,000 jobs in the Kingdom,” he added.
On renewable energy transformation, Zaimi said the PIF has “one of the most ambitious plans of investment into renewables,” specifically solar and wind power.
The PIF has invested in a variety of industries, such as transport and logistics firm Uber and the SoftBank’s giant Vision Fund focused on startup investing.
“In new technologies we are there to pick the next champions,” said Zaimi. “Since we have a very long term perspective on things, we feel confident that our investments today will make a big impact in the future.”
Zaimi added that the PIF is currently experiencing significant growth and expects to grow to 1,000 employees by the end of 2020, a nearly 1 percent-a-day increase, from its current 700 employees.
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