LIVING WELL

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE & SPORTS | INTERVIEW

The Quality of Life program, established to advance Vision 2030, aims to help coordinate the expansion and improvement of entertainment, cultural, and recreational opportunities for Saudis.

Fahad Alakeel
BIOGRAPHY
Fahad Alakeel was appointed CEO of the Quality of Life program in 2018. Prior to that, he was CEO of Najm Company for Insurance Services and held progressive roles at Riyad Bank, Arab National Bank, SABB, and Bank Al Jazira. He holds a degree from Carleton University.

Can you elaborate on the essence of the Quality of Life program, launched in mid-2018 with a SAR130-billion (USD34.6 billion) budget, and how you envision funding to be allocated to achieve its goals?

The Quality of Life Program is one of the vision realization programs (VRPs) adopted by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016. It is based on three main pillars: a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. Vision 2030 aims to bring about a major qualitative leap on several levels including economic, social, cultural, and others. The Quality of Life program is one of the most comprehensive programs to achieve this vision and the most relevant to the lives of citizens and residents. It was originally established to enhance the quality of life in the Kingdom through improved lifestyle and infrastructure development. Second, we also aim to improve lifestyles to support the entertainment, cultural, sport, and recreational sectors and to increase the interaction of individuals and society with these sectors. The infrastructure for this includes work on transport, the urban landscape, housing, education, health, and other vital sectors of the country. Funding for the program's initiatives is through several means. Initiatives with high returns that can be accomplished quickly involve the private sector, such as cinemas, which has been revived through the program's initiatives, the implementation of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), and the private sector. Vital initiatives that lack financial or low-cost returns are achieved through direct government spending from the budget allocated to the program's initiatives, which are implemented by various government agencies according to their mandates, such as the General Culture Authority (GCA), the General Sport Authority (GSA), the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Education, and other quality-of-life partners. In total, there are 14 executive bodies for the initiatives of the program and more than 100 diverse initiatives, depending on the competencies of the partners. The program works with all these agencies to ensure that the initiatives are implemented.

How can the Quality of Life program provide a smooth transition to an active and vibrant entertainment sector?

Legislative initiatives occupy an important part of the program. The program works through several initiatives to change and develop legislation related to entertainment and culture and general legislation, which affect the quality of life in the Kingdom. We have initiatives with GCAM, GEA, and other sectors to remove any legislative obstacles to the growth of the sector and add incentive legislation that contributes to its growth. The legislation concerning GCAM and GEA was recently approved and is one of the main initiatives of the program to develop the general legislative environment in the Kingdom. Our organization is also well-positioned to monitor the ownership of the various programs, guide collaboration between the various authorities, and reassign certain responsibilities, if necessary.

What primary ambitions have you set for the coming year?

Following the approval of the organizational arrangements for the Quality of Life Program Center in November 2018, the program has now become one of our core priorities. The center will be independent and aims to support the hobbies sector, develop possible regulations and specialized competencies in quality of life, and initiate innovative creative initiatives. In 2019, we aspire to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom, move ahead with all the program's initiatives, build a broader strategy for the coming years, and come closer than ever to making the Kingdom's cities some of the leading cities in the world.