The Business Year

Alwalid Albaltan, CEO of Rafeeh Entertainment Group

SAUDI ARABIA - Tourism

Alwalid Albaltan

CEO, Rafeeh Entertainment Group

Bio

Alwalid Al-Baltan is the founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of Future Steps Company (Takanda). He is Managing Director of a number of companies, including: Prestige, Aqdar Company, and Tahwaj Company for Entertainment Events. He works as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Al-Bultan Holding Group, a member of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council of the Federation of Saudi Chambers. He holds the position of President of the National Entertainment Committee at the Federation of Saudi Chambers.

“We are developing a customer loyalty program that will allow us to give all our customers easy and friendly access to all our prestigious brands through an application.”

Alwalid Albaltan, CEO of Rafeeh Entertainment Group, talks to TBY about reinventing the entertainment sector, aligning public and private sectors, and priorities for the year ahead.

Could you give our readers an overview of Rafeeh Entertainment Group?

Alwalid Albaltan: Rafeeh Entertainment Group is focused on changing the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia. We focus on providing full services in the entertainment sector. We operate on three main pillars. The first is the companies that own entertainment centers, under which are three brands; one is called Teens, which focuses on indoor and outdoor adventures. The second is called Adventure Camp, and finally, our newest and most exciting concept called Takenda, located in Riyadh Boulevard, which features two floors of arcade games, retro games, VR games, immersive experience, cave experience, bumper carts, roller blading, a big slide and more. The second pillar within the group is our logistics services which consists of two companies; the first company is an exclusive brand called Prestige, which provides parking management, event management, transportation, and logistics. This part of our group is heavily involved in the most prominent entertainment events, such as Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season, Formula One, Festivals and sporting events. The second company is AQDAR, featuring a company that provides services to the individuals with disabilities to include them in the transformation and vision of 2030. In Arabic “AQDAR” translates to “I Can.” We are especially proud of this brand as we want individuals with disabilities to feel welcome and to be included in all the initiatives taking place within the Kingdom. The third pillar is our event management segment, where we are starting to work in the eSports season. We work on different projects together with leading real estate developer ROSHN.

How does Rafeeh entertainment integrate technology into its business model and reinvent the entertainment sector?

Alwalid Albaltan: Entertainment is on the rise and Rafeeh has set its footprint in the sector, we are building a strong foundation and continuing to work on our business model to reach our personal goals and being a leading benchmark in the sector. We are developing a customer loyalty program that will allow us to give all our customers easy and friendly access to all our prestigious brands through an application. This application will serve all the brands of Rafeeh. In addition, we have already started to enroll our parking system solution that can be found in operation at Riyadh Boulevard as a fully smart solution service, that allows you to make your reservation and pay your parking fees online. And finally, we are working on a similar online concept for our AQDAR brand.

How do you distinguish yourself in the market and set new benchmarks in the entertainment sector? 

Alwalid Albaltan: In the ever-changing entertainment sector, we must focus on our personal goals as a company and this will evolve into new benchmarks and distinguishing ourselves in the sector, with that being said, there are always new market trends we have to keep our eye on to ensure we are aligned going forward. The government, HRH, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and, of course, the General Entertainment Authority with HE Turki Al-Sheikh have given the private sector unparalleled support, which is exponentially accelerating the entertainment sector. Our main target is a 360 services solutions and a new way of thinking in the sector by providing entertainment destinations and luxury services to KSA our esteemed partners and future investors.

You are also the chairman of the National Entertainment Committee. What is the role of this committee?

Alwalid Albaltan: The Council of Saudi Chambers is here to represent the private sector, and under it is the National Entertainment Committee. My role on the committee is to represent all the businessmen in this sector, bridging the gap between the private and public sectors and working on fresh initiatives, new policies, or any activity of interest. I’m playing a supporting role to the committee, and making sure we meet expectations, and anything the private sector may require from the government. As a result, we make sure that there is a proper alignment between the private and public sectors.

How would you assess the entertainment sector’s short-term evolution as the private sector aligns with Vision 2030?

Alwalid Albaltan: The sector will be an industry rather than just a small sector for two reasons; one, his Royal Highness is supporting the sector heavily as it is a pillar of vision 2030. Additionally, we have the full support of private businesses from the General Entertainment Authority. They provide us with efficient policies and new initiatives to assist us in advancing the sector. Therefore, it will be an industry sooner rather than later. 

How do you see Rafeeh Entertainment expanding over time?

Alwalid Albaltan: In terms of local expansion, we are focusing on our goals to be the #1 exclusive brand in KSA. The main component, entertainment, can be seen in Qiddiyah and Seven, a mega entertainment company owned by PIF. Seven has the capacity to drive the entertainment sector by being a global player. Internationally we are looking to establish partnerships with companies abroad and have our eyes on opening a head office in Egypt, Africa.

What are Rafeeh entertainment’s strategic priorities for the year ahead?

Alwalid Albaltan: We would like to continue developing as a brand and focus on technological advancements and expanding our brand across KSA. We are also ready to tap into the international sector to continue working on becoming a market leader and closing the year off on a high.

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