International actors celebrate the ‘joy of cinema’ in Saudi Arabia

Published: Updated:

Fifteen international actors, including Jackie Chan, Jason Momoa, and Shahrukh Khan, received awards at the Joy Excellence Awards gala ceremony in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh on Monday.

Turki Al Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the GEA’s board of directors, welcomed the acclaimed guests and presented each of them with a falcon-shaped award.

Jason Momoa, best known for his roles in Aquaman and Game of Thrones, thanked his Saudi Arabian fans, adding “The joy of cinema, I now get to spread. I was here in 2017, and I fell in love with your country. It’s very beautiful.”

During his thank-you speech, Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan praised the “hospitality, the warmth, the goodness, and the love” that he experienced on his first trip to the Kingdom.

“Cinema has opened up here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. You have so many new stories to tell, and we as the world look forward to being of help in any which way that we can,” Khan said.

According to Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), the Joy Premium Award is “designed to be handed to those who spread the joy and happiness around the world and in our Joyful land of Saudi Arabia.”

The award show was part of the JOY Entertainment Industry Forum 2019. The recipients of the awards were chosen “based on public opinion,” according to organizers.

The two-day event, held October 13-14, featured discussions with industry pioneers about successful entertainment sectors, design strategies, and detailed plans on how to implement change.

Actors from the region, like Souad Abdullah and Nasser al-Qasabi, were also in attendance at the Gala dinner.

The Joy Entertainment Forum was organized by the GEA in line with the Kingdom’s ongoing Vision 2030 economic reform plan. Announced in 2016, Vision 2030 is a sweeping set of programs and reforms set to liberalize the economy and reduce dependence on oil revenues.

A key target for diversification is growing the Kingdom’s entertainment sector. Saudi Arabia has been pushing efforts under the Saudi Vision 2030 to include enhance entertainment across the Kingdom organized under the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which has taken the lead in organizing events like WWE wrestling, Arabs Got Talent performances, food festivals, music concerts, and other events.
The new focus on entertainment has provided a wealth of events organized by the GEA, which has put on a series of entertainment “seasons.”

Riyadh Season kicked off on Friday with much-anticipated concert by K-pop boyband BTS, following Jeddah Season, a six-week entertainment that ran from June 8 to July 18, and al-Soudah Season, which included the Flowerman Festival.

The GEA also organized a five-day National Day Season in September to celebrate the Kingdom's 89th National Day.