The Government has announced a new deal to give Britain’s culture and entertainment industries better access to the Saudi Arabian market.
UK Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on entertainment and leisure with his Saudi counterpart, Ahmed Al Khateeb, to open up new export opportunities for the UK’s sports, cultural and creative industries.
The UK Government sees the Kingdom as a key prospect for exports in this area; it has an an economy worth £545bn and more than half of its 30 million population is under 24.
According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the agreement represents a world first for the Gulf state.
It comes ahead of the Government’s Creative Industries Sector Deal, which will form part of the wider Industrial Strategy.
The country’s entertainment industry is still in its infancy, but an international deal was struck last month when UK cinema chain VUE secured a contract for the launch of 30 multiplex cinemas across Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Crown Prince is due to meet representatives of the UK’s creative technology industries as part of his visit this month.
Matt Hancock MP said: “This agreement is an historic moment for change and reform in Saudi Arabia, and marks a new chapter in relations between the Kingdom and Britain.
“Arts, sports and the creative industries give people the freedom to express themselves, provide enjoyment and entertainment, and can be many people’s first introduction to a nation’s culture. We are a world leader in this area.”
He added: “By sharing our success we can encourage Saudi Arabia on its new path and strengthen our strong relationship.”