Israel-Hamas war looms over Saudi Arabia’s big bets on sports, entertainment and tourism


Al-Monitor Pro Members


Samuel Wendel

Senior Market Research Analyst, Al-Monitor


Nov. 25, 2023

Bottom Line:

News surfaced Nov. 3 that Saudi Arabia is pursuing a $5 billion investment into cricket—potentially a landmark bet on the sport’s global growth and popularity. Days earlier, the kingdom was anointed presumptive host for the 2034 World Cup, a massive breakthrough for Riyadh’s ambitions to become a global sports powerhouse. During a year dominated by disruptive Saudi sports investments, such developments should only have fueled more hype and headlines, but the Israel-Hamas war has largely overshadowed that buzz. The specter of regional conflict is stealing the spotlight away from Saudi Arabia, a snapshot of a larger blow to Riyadh’s ambitions, which rely heavily on using sports, entertainment and tourism to help rebrand the kingdom’s image, amass soft power and drive economic diversification — a multi-billion dollar push that could now struggle to generate expected returns.

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