Popular Saudi preacher fined, banned from Twitter

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Updated 18 March 2017
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Popular Saudi preacher fined, banned from Twitter

RIYADH: A Saudi preacher with more than 2 million Twitter followers has been banned from tweeting by a court that convicted him of jeopardizing public order.
The cleric, previously accused of links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, was also fined SR100,000 ($27,000), Okaz newspaper reported Thursday.
It did not name the “famous preacher,” but Awad Al-Qarni confirmed the verdict on his @awadalqarni Twitter account late Thursday.
“I am prevented from writing” on the account, he tweeted, before issuing a Twitter message early Friday thanking his followers.
Okaz said Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court, which handles “terrorism” cases, on Thursday convicted the preacher of spreading content on Twitter that “could jeopardize public order and provoke public opinion.”
It said the content “could affect the relationship of the people with the leadership, and the relationship of Saudi Arabia with other countries.” Okaz said the preacher was tried without having been arrested.
Al-Qarni has often been criticized in the local press and on social media for his radical views about scholars who disagree with his interpretation of religion.
Okaz previously reported that he once claimed to be so influential that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad placed a bounty on his head and plotted to kill him.
The unsubstantiated claim led to columnists and social media users harshly ridiculing him.
In 2010, Al-Qarni was charged in absentia by an Egyptian court with funding the Muslim Brotherhood.
— with input from AFP


Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

Saudi Arabia is expected to become a significant box office market. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

  • Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion)

DUBAI: The big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be a billion-dollar industry by 2030, according to experts, as regional and global movie operators queue up for a ticket into the Kingdom’s hugely profitable movie market.
Saudi Arabia is expected to amass the largest share of the cinema business in the Arabian Gulf region by 2030, with hundred of cinemas and thousands of screens set to open across the Kingdom over the next 12 years.
Within months of Saudi Arabia formally ending a 35-year-long ban on cinemas, three cinema operation licenses were awarded to operate in the Kingdom, the first was to AMC Theaters, an American chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. It opened the Kingdom’s first modern cinema on April 18 and plans to open around 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and between 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 cities by 2030.
Shortly after, the second license was awarded to VOX Cinemas, now one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest movie operators. It plans to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia in the next five years, the same number of screens as the company’s regional footprint combined.
In July, it was announced the the third license had been awarded to the Al-Rashed United Group — Empire Cinema — which plans to build 30 theaters in the country over the next three years. And last month, a fourth license was awarded to Lux Entertainment Co., which plans to open 300 cinemas across the Kingdom within five years.
VOX, which plans to open 80 new screens over the next 12 months, says the Kingdom will form half of its overall revenues in the Middle East over the next five years.
“Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion),” said Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas, of which VOX Cinemas is a subsidiary.
He said the Kingdom’s box-office market is expected to become “one of the largest” in the world, with a majority of its 32-million population under the age of 30. “The market is massive and full of opportunities as the population is young and enthusiastic about cinema.”
Will Saudi Arabia ever host the world premiere of a Hollywood movie? No one’s saying right now, but with such a covetable box-office market, it may only be a matter of time.