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Saudi, expat families look for alternative leisure venues.

JEDDAH: Ibrahim NaffeeSaudi and expat families are looking for alternative forms of leisure for their families in the wake of several accidents that have recently occurred at arcades in commercial centers.

Such centers are often confined to small spaces and are underdeveloped.

Three children were injured in a waterfall ride last summer at a local family entertainment center when safety belts failed to prevent the children from hitting their heads in the steel barrier in front of them as the ride was in motion, said one parent. The children's injuries were minor.

Experts have called for the introduction of insurance policies against risks arising from using games and recreational machines at amusement centers, a local newspaper reported.

"Local entertainment centers need to ensure safety and security standards in order to attract more families. For now, the gardens located along the Jeddah Corniche are safe enough," Salah Taha, a Sudanese resident, told Arab News.

Jeddah's waterfront, which was open for business last December, represents a new rival to many entertainment centers.

Renovations included new internal roads, an exclusive ramp for the physically handicapped, 899 parking slots, a separate lane for joggers, playing facilities for small children and public toilets.

"We have stopped going to entertainment centers due to accidents that have occurred in several venues over the last few months. In fact, many entertainment centers in Jeddah have been closed because there are no safety standards," Aisha Mahmoud, a Yemeni national, told Arab News.

Consumption in the recreational sector averaged SR2.1 billion in 2012 based on data made available by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).

Revenues of entertainment centers touched SR1.5 billion, of which 48.7 percent is generated from e-games and 27.5 percent from entrance fees, according to SCTA data.

Recreational and entertainment centers generate 35 percent of their total revenues for the entire year during holiday seasons such as Eid Al-Fitr, dealers said.

Turnover at recreational centers increase by as much as 300 percent during Eid holidays. Family spending ranges between SR500 and SR2,000 per capita during these seasons, local media reported.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Dec 2, 2013
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