First impressions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

By Paul Crick — April 15, 2020

According to the Collins Dictionary, ‘Wanderlust’ is an ‘urge to travel’. I think it’s fair to say that most of the NEWSUBSTANCE team have an urge to travel, which is a good thing really as most of our projects are outside of the UK!

I’ve always had wanderlust and the thrill of a new country is unrivalled, new sights, sounds and smells and also food.  For my 49th country, Saudi Arabia didn’t disappoint.

As a business, we’ve been working in the Middle East for over a decade and our NEWSUBSTANCE and SKYMAGIC teams have been working in Saudi since 2018, when we put on drone shows for KSA National Day simultaneously in both Riyadh and Jeddah. I made my first trip to the Kingdom in February when I spent a week in Riyadh on a Department of Industry and Trade mission.  I was met with a warm welcome, fantastic architecture and some interesting driving styles…

Saudi Arabia’s liberalisation and the opening of its doors to a new world of entertainment has been well publicised, and I’m sure you will have read about the Gigaprojects such as Qiddya Entertainment City, NEOM and the Red Sea Project that form part of fulfilling the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover many other ambitious and impressive projects, such as the King Salman Park and the Riyadh Sports Boulevard, to modernise and grow the Saudi economy and provide a population who are mostly under 35 with world-leading entertainment and sports facilities.

In addition to these ambitious infrastructure projects, the Kingdom has ‘Seasons’ – 11 different festival periods held in a difference province each period.  These have attracted over 30 million visitors and have seen over 3,000 events and activities, from the Joshua v Ruiz ‘Clash of the Dunes’ fight as part of Diriyah Season to the Desert X art installation which formed part of the Tantora Winter Festival at the stunning world heritage site of Al-Ula. The MDL Beast electronic music festival last December also had over 400,000 attendees and some of the biggest names in the dance music world.

We’re incredibly excited about the scale and ambition of these projects and our NEWSUBSTANCE and SKYMAGIC teams are excited to be contributing to what is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop world class events and infrastructure.

I’d encourage you to take the trip and experience the Arabian hospitality and a cup of mint tea for yourself. You won’t regret it.