Saudi Arabia historic move on sports venues



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Saudi Arabia permitting the commercialisation of sport facilities Image: Arab News

In a historic moment for the sports industry in Saudi Arabia, a royal decree was issued recently permitting the commercialization of state-owned sports venues and facilities, including naming rights and sponsorships.

A ‘LinkedIn post by RISE’ stated that the above progressive move will build on the commercial success and promotion of sport in the Kingdom – offering an irresistible chance to brands to not only connect with the passionate sports fans in the Kingdom, but also align with Vision 2030 and place their brand at the heart of the action.

Of late, Saudi Arabia is going whole hog to boost sports economy and in June 2021 invited global investors to take full ownership of clubs, academies and centers across 27 of its most popular sports.

The Ministry of Sport launched on June 21st, 2021, NAFES, a new online licensing platform designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration in the Kingdom, one of the world’s rapidly growing sports markets. The sports being offered for ownership via NAFES include football, basketball, swimming, equestrian, tennis, electronic sports, gymnastics, cycling, and combat sports.

The launch of NAFES falls under Saudi Arabia’s ‘Quality of Life’ sports program, which is part of the country’s Vision 2030 reform plans.

Saudi Vision 2030 is a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

The ‘EY’ stated that sports are taking centerstage in the Kingdom’s massive diversification efforts and the country is growing as a hotspot for attracting high-profile sports events.

In a short span of time, Saudi Arabia has leaped to the forefront of becoming a new breeding ground for a flourishing sports events ecosystem by playing host to some of the biggest and renowned sporting events globally.

The ‘EY’ further stated that the Government of Saudi Arabia aims to encourage widespread participation in sports activities, diversify the economy and boost the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Sport is central to the Vision 2030 program, with several initiatives aiming at encouraging mass participation, improving Saudi Arabia’s athletes’ performance in international competitions and growing the sports economy.

The ‘LinkedIn post by RISE’ further stated that in other markets, billions of dollars have been spent by brands on acquiring naming rights to stadiums, which helps brands connect with the community, build awareness and reputation, and garner loyalty. The industry is seeing constant growth and just in the last couple of years, more than SAR 5 billion has been spent by brands on acquiring naming rights. A huge deal was announced in November 2021, which saw Crypto.com pay SAR 2.6 billion to rename the 20,000-capacity Staples Arena in Los Angeles, US.

RISE has significant naming rights experience, having developed, marketed and closed the initial offering for Riyadh Metro Naming Rights in Saudi Arabia, which raised more than SAR 1 billion in long-term revenue for the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

RISE is an independent marketing and commercial services consultancy. It works with clients to maximize business and brand returns on their investments by providing a range of services tailored specifically towards achieving commercial objectives.

It helps both public and private sector clients to transform the commercial value of their assets or investments by combining strategic consultancy with implementation to deliver long-term impact and lasting value.

The consultancy group specializes in naming rights and sponsorship and well knows the fact that naming rights and sponsorship agreements have the potential to secure guaranteed long-term commercial revenue for any public or private asset, as well as achieve specific brand and business objectives for their partners.

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