Saudi Arabia Wants to Be A Movie Capital. Will Hollywood Go Along?

Oil-rich Middle Eastern countries are looking to invest billions of dollars into media and entertainment.

When I asked executives to make predictions for 2023, one wise person wrote this:

Saudi Arabia becomes much more broadly accepted as a source of funds in Hollywood and will make a splash with high-profile investing.

Since reading this, I’ve started to see and hear about Saudi money from sources every week. And it isn’t just Saudi money. It’s Qatari money and Emirati money. So this week, we’re going to explain why the Middle East is starting to spend so much money in media — and what that means for everyone else.

Is Saudi Arabia the next China for Hollywood?

In early December, dozens of global celebrities descended upon Jeddah, a city of more than 4 million people on the Western coast of Saudi Arabia. Jeddah has long served as a gateway to the holy city of Mecca, as well as a port of entry for foreign travelers coming to Saudi Arabia. For 10 days last year, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city attempted to transform itself into a cultural hub akin to Cannes or Sundance by hosting the Red Sea International Film Festival.

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Image Credit: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg

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