A raft of Egyptian actors and musicians will perform in Saudi Arabia in the coming months as the kingdom continues to enhance its burgeoning entertainment offering.
Actors Yehia El Fakharany and Farouk Al Fishawi will take to the stage for six performances of Shakespearean tragedy King Lear after a number of deals were struck between Egypt’s artistic community and Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority.
Other highlights on the horizon include a series of six plays featuring actress, singer and dancer Sherihan, who will appear at the Riyadh Festival in October and November this year, and in Jeddah in June and July 2020, according to local media reports.
Comedy actors Mohamed Henedi, Ashraf Abdul Baqi and Mohammed Saad will also star in productions destined for the kingdom, while playwrights Amir Taima and Ayman Bahgat Qamar have been commissioned to pen new works in a bid to boost Saudi Arabia’s theatrical offerings.
For music fans, performances by Hani Shaker, Amr Diab and Mohammed Hamaki have been lined up for the months ahead, as well as stage shows featuring the music of Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdul Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez.
The deals feeds into a wider push by Saudi Arabia to develop its entertainment industry under the directives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 diversification plans.
The GEA was created in 2016 to lead entertainment projects and initiatives, and recently announced its plans for the kingdom to rank among the world’s top 10 entertainment destinations.
Among its most high-profile initiatives to date, the GEA has launched a 334 square kilometre ‘entertainment city, backed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund. The city’s groundbreaking ceremony took place in April 2018.
In January last year, the kingdom ended a 35-year ban on cinemas when it screened animated children’s films in a makeshift theatre. Permanent cinemas were opened later in the year. Authorities plan to set up around 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens by 2030.
Earlier this year the GEA also signed a series of agreements with London-based promotors and producers to bring numerous stage shows, musicals, festivals, TV shows, cinema events and other attractions to the kingdom. These will include West End musical Thriller – featuring the songs of Michael Jackson – as well as a show by British magician Dynamo, a Ferrari festival, and events by award-winning cultural-heritage organisation 1001 Inventions, among others.