Saudi festival on track to be Kingdom’s biggest creative marketing industry gathering, predicts event chairman

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Athar Festival has the potential to be the largest gathering of the creative marketing industry ever staged in the Kingdom, the event’s chairman has predicted.

Set to take place from Nov. 13 to 16 at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Riyadh, around 1,500 delegates are expected to attend and the festival will feature 12 academies for young professionals.

Festival chairman and managing partner and group editor-in-chief of Motivate Media Group, Ian Fairservice, said: “We aim to amplify engagement in cultural, entertainment, and urban activities while also developing and showcasing Saudi talent on a global stage.”

He pointed out that the Kingdom had witnessed a growth in demand for content in recent years and advertising had become an integral part of that.

“Given the high rates of content consumption and a tech-savvy population, the advertising industry in Saudi Arabia is prime for growth, with statistics projecting the market to grow by 6.81 percent between 2023 and 2027, resulting in a market volume of $2.79 billion in 2027,” he added.

Festival chairman and managing partner and group editor-in-chief of Motivate Media Group, Ian Fairservice. (Supplied)

The festival aims to serve as a platform to showcase the best of Saudi creativity, forge bonds, and nurture collaboration between local and international stakeholders.

Fairservice said: “Creativity is the crucible of innovation, igniting productivity and bolstering competitiveness. It serves as the source and inspiration for novel ideas that are then forged into groundbreaking products, services, and marketing campaigns that captivate.

“History has shown that companies who observe the world, discover what makes them special, and then express that in their own way, are able to be the most successful in the long run,” he added.

The festival will offer a platform for experiential learning, featuring workshops, masterclasses, and sessions led by industry professionals.

Fairservice noted that Saudi Arabia’s majority population was aged under 40, and with that in mind the Athar Festival team had “meticulously designed a range of initiatives and programs tailored to specifically empower young talent.”

He said: “The festival will run a series of academies which encompass various creative sectors, such as design, marketing, PR, and more, crafted for individuals under the age of 30.

“Through 12 focused academies, we will furnish younger attendees with hands-on training and development opportunities, fostering their growth and nurturing their potential.”

An executive marketers’ program, aimed at mid-level marketers seeking comprehensive career development insights, will provide sessions with industry leaders and practical knowledge sharing to speed up career progression.

And a mentorship initiative for women working in the Kingdom’s marketing communications industry will also be run.

The festival was established in 2007 following the launch of the Dubai Lynx Advertising Awards and Festival of Creativity, set up to recognize creative talent throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

“Since its foundation, we’ve seen remarkable growth within the industry at a regional level, which was demonstrated recently by Saudi Arabia’s reception of the first-ever Grand Prix Award at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity,” Fairservice added.

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