Saudi Arabia has announced plans to fly in world famous DJ Armin Van Buuren for the Gulf kingdom’s first DJ party.
The event will be held in King Abdullah Economic City on June 17 and is the latest event to be announced as Saudi Arabia plans to spend billions on building new venues and bringing in Western acts in a total overhaul of its entertainment sector.
Dutch national Van Buuren has been ranked the number one DJ by DJ Mag a record five times and in the United States, he holds the record for most entries (21) on the Billboard Dance and Electronic Albums chart.
Supported by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, the event is being organised by Brackets.
It follows a series of events in recent months including concerts, a Comic-Con festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing in the streets to thumping electronic music for the first time.
Authorities have also announced plans to lift a decades-old ban on cinemas this year, with some 300 expected to open by 2030.
The newfound openness, which includes plans to allow women to drive from June this year, has been hailed by some as a crucial liberalisation of Saudi society.
Critics have pointed to continued restrictions however, especially on women who remain under a strict “guardianship” system that gives male relatives significant control over their lives.
The reforms are part of Prince Mohammed’s ambitious “Vision 2030” programme, which seeks to diversify the Saudi economy as it reels from a slump in energy prices, with the entertainment sector seen as a key potential source of growth.
Saudis splurge billions annually on movies and visits to amusement parks in the neighbouring tourist hubs of Dubai and Bahrain, which is accessible by a land causeway.