How the Saudi General Sports Authority is Championing Digital Innovation in the Kingdom
Partnering with UXBERT Labs’ HalaYalla platform, the GSA is leading the way on digital innovation in the Kingdom.
Sharek is the Saudi General Sports Authority’s (GSA) latest success in their efforts supporting the Kingdom’s realization of Vision 2030.
The portal provides residents with a simple and seamless way to purchase tickets and attend sporting and entertainment events in the country.
Powered by UXBERT Labs’ HalaYalla platform, Sharek was launched alongside the announcement that the opening race of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s 5th season would take place in the Kingdom this December.
As well as giving local motor racing fans the chance to watch world-class drivers in their own backyard, the E-Prix will also be the first time fans from around the world are able to visit the Kingdom with a ‘tourist’ visa.
Having implemented a first of its kind e-visa process, Sharek allows foreign visitors to obtain an e-visa for specific international events directly through the platform. The aim is to make applying for a visit visa to the Kingdom as simple as purchasing a ticket through the system.
“This is an exciting milestone for us. When you host international championships, you have international fans who want to attend. And, of course, the best way to see Saudi Arabia is to visit through sports. This isn’t just the first way, it is the best way.” – Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al-Saud, Vice-Chair of the GSA
Innovating Services With Technology
The launch of Sharek shows that the GSA leadership understand the key role digital innovation will play in the Kingdom achieving the goals of Vision 2030.
As individuals become increasingly reliant on digital products in their everyday lives, they’re becoming more accustomed to having their needs met immediately and frictionlessly.
People don’t want to have to print out forms and send them in the mail, go to a government office and stand in line or make payments in person.
Instead, they expect a personalized experience that is fast and easy. Things that can be done online and with a few clicks of their mouse or taps of their phone. They know that technology makes these things possible and they want to be able to have their needs met using it.
Sharek proves that well designed and intelligently built technology can help government agencies give people what they’re looking for while achieving their own aims.
GSA’s Partnership with HalaYalla
While much of the media buzz has been about the e-visa portal of Sharek, the capabilities of the platform and the technology behind it go beyond visa applications.
Sharek was built by the UXBERT Labs team responsible for HalaYalla, an interactive platform working towards being the most powerful on-demand event management platform in the world.
While HalaYalla originally started as a mobile app that empowers people to find and join sporting and entertainment events in their area, it’s since evolved into an all-encompassing platform for event organizers (while still integrating with the user-facing app).
At the time that HalaYalla came across the GSA’s radar, the platform had 3 years of engineering, design, and architecture behind it with online booking, paperless ticketing, tournament management, a dedicated mobile app for organizers and a host of other features available.
The HalaYalla team had already been involved in partnering with a host of major events in the Kingdom (paperless ticketing and mobile apps for the Alf Hewar initiative and Ramaka Festival to name a few) to supply them with organizing tools for their events.
HalaYalla’s first project with the GSA was managing registration and online communications for the Riyadh Marathon. In what was the Kingdom’s first international half-marathon event, HalaYalla successfully processed registration for over 30,000 runners.
Other major events that the GSA used the HalaYalla platform for event management included the Fifa E-cup tournament (registration of 6,000 players), the Drone Racing League (1,200 racer registered) and also Saudi’s maiden Baloot tournament championship last year (over 85,000 registered and around 12,000 were selected to play) and the second tournament held last month (close to 20,000 selected to play).
The Baloot tournament championship also showcased HalaYalla’s ability to handle large scale tournaments with the management of games, scoring, tournament progression and even referee rulings being managed through the app.
HalaYalla was also the partner of choice for the GSA for the WWE Royal Rumble held in Jeddah in April of this year. The event was an international success with HalaYalla handling both seat booking and online ticket sales for over 34,000 wrestling fans.
The Road to Vision 2030
The future of innovation at the GSA is bright.
At HalaYalla, our aim is to keep supporting the GSA’s goals for the Sharek platform to provide citizens and visitors to the country with exceptional experiences.
The team plans to continue working on additional modules to Sharek to improve its capabilities while also building additional features into the core HalaYalla platform to make it the premier event management platform in the world.
HalaYalla is a UXBERT Labs product made up of a user-facing app available on the iOS App store and Google Play store, and a powerful integrated event management platform with features including paperless ticketing, check-in scans, event analytics, dashboard reporting and more.
At UXBERT Labs we specialise in Innovation & Design Thinking processes to create world-class experiences. Hosting Saudi Arabia’s first commercial and state-of-the-art Usability Lab, and a team of UX Researchers, Designers and Developers on-site in our Riyadh office, we deliver custom designed and built software that helps businesses succeed, whatever the industry.