What have been the major achievements of the past year for Time?
The main achievement from 2018 was a quadrupling of everything we did from the year before. It is a challenge now to keep the same momentum. This presents an interesting challenge, and we have the chance to achieve it. In 2017, we had many firsts to report; the first ladies in stadiums, the first female dancers on stage, and many more. It was a year of building up our presence and setting new standards. In 2018, we took business to the next level in terms of quality, exposure, and names. This was an important step in the right direction and it made the market even bigger. The government was keen to support the private sector with investment. Companies are becoming increasingly specialized in certain types of entertainment, such as shows and festivals.
Does the new content resonate with audiences?
The challenge is to produce content accessible to the entire population. We are moving in the right direction and older generations know more now. Maybe they do not know specifics, but they can identify brands and know what is good and bad. For example, Cirque Du Soleil is a well-known international brand; there are some who do not know it, but they see that it goes far beyond simply being a circus. This variety and enhancement in quality is enlightening people. They feel and know the difference.
How have you gone about creating your own projects?
One of our KPIs in 2018 was to develop three new IPs, and ultimately we now have five. We also worked on getting international players to understand the market dynamics. We now have JV operating here. We are no longer simply creating IPs, but shows from scratch for Saudis with an international partner. There are investors who believe in the market potential, and now international companies feel the same and want a presence here for the long term. Many companies are investing in Saudi, and we are forming partnerships across many spheres.
How are you marketing yourself as the go-to partner?
Entertainment is a big focus for companies here. With the announced mega project underway, there is a vision to develop whole areas at once, with a significant demand for all related industries. They may call us to go work with them on developing a new concept from scratch. Our service is to analyze and help them develop ideas. There is solid collaboration between the government and private sector.
What is the largest potential project in the near future?
Something we want to do is create a permanent show for Saudi Arabia. This is a long shot, but we are working with big names to develop something of permanence. We are also working to develop a resident show with a new format that can be adapted, so that there can be three or four different shows, such as a show for the kids in the morning, or something for wider audiences, and then other shows in the evenings. This is a format of resident show that has been tried and done in other countries. The ultimate goal is to make these venues a hub for not only Saudi but the wider world. We want to bring in the next big thing in entertainment. We were behind for many years, and instead of just catching up, we want to be the innovator. If we do that, then we will become a destination. We can compete with Dubai, Singapore, and Macau, in our unique Saudi flavor and become a family entertainment destination. There is a big market we can serve, and we have all it takes. When we see an opportunity to add value, we are very proactive and with that attitude we move forward.
What may we expect in 2019?
We have signed some very big projects for 2019 and we want to develop more. There is something happening in the government there will be seasons organized by the highest level of the government where each city or area will have the attention and focus for a certain period. In each season we will focus on different aspects, for example classical music, marine activities on the Red Sea, or culture. Each area will be unique in terms of its offerings. It is creating a whole new ecosystem. If people want to visit Saudi Arabia they have a yearlong agenda.