K-pop giant SM Entertainment expands in Middle East, plans to discover and produce local artists in Saudi Arabia

South Korea-headquartered K-Pop company SM Entertainment is expanding in Saudi Arabia.

Soo-Man Lee, the firm’s Chief Producer, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Investment Saudi Arabia (MISA) to enter the local market and promote joint projects.

The MOU signing ceremony was held at SM Entertainment’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea on Friday (August 19).

Lee was joined by SM CEO Sung-Su Lee, Head of SM SEA & MENA branch Kyung Jin Han, and Saudi Arabia Ministry of Investment H.E Deputy Fahad Al-Naeem.

Through this business agreement, SM says that it will actively promote S-Pop (Saudi Pop) via the discovery and production of local artists.

The company also plans to establish “a metaverse platform to share Korean and Saudi culture”.

SM is also planning to launch a music venue along the Red Sea which it says will be “capable of holding a music festival all-year-round”. The company also plans to  create various content and products.

Within the announcement about SM’s plans in Saudi Arabia, the company says that it met with Saudi investment officials who visited SM’s Seoul office on June 30, presented “the vision and direction for the development of the Saudi culture industry, as well as discussing ways to collaborate with SM’s endeavors in the region, leading to the signing of the MOU”.

Earlier in 2022, SM says that Lee visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet with local cultural officials, and in June, Saudi Minister of Culture Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud visited the SM office “to talk in-depth about cooperation for the development of the cultural industry”.

“I’m happy to sign a business agreement with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Investment.”

Soo-Man Lee

Lee said: “I’m happy to sign a business agreement with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Investment.

“I hope this agreement will bring forth great results for myself, SM, and Saudi Arabia. With the CT (Culture Technology) system I have established, I plan to discover local talents to produce S-Pop, and establish a music ecosystem that young people in Saudi Arabia can enjoy.

“We hope that it will contribute to the development of the future cultural industry in Saudi Arabia.”

“We are very much looking forward to working with Chief Producer Soo-Man Lee and SM Entertainment, and we will actively cooperate.”

Fahad Al-Naeem

Fahad Al-Naeem said: “We are very much looking forward to working with Chief Producer Soo-Man Lee and SM Entertainment, and we will actively cooperate.”


Last month, Los Angeles-based virtual reality concert platform AmazeVR signed a joint venture deal with SM Entertainment and Studio KWANGYA, SM Entertainment’s new metaverse content production house to produce immersive VR concerts for the metaverse.

In June, aespa and SM Entertainment inked a global deal with Warner Records.

 Music Business Worldwide