Trump, crown prince discuss Qatar row

File photo: US President Donald Trump and then Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Mohammed was made crown prince on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2017
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Trump, crown prince discuss Qatar row

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday congratulated Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom he discussed the diplomatic row between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, including Riyadh.
“The president and the crown prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond,” the White House said in a statement about their telephone talks.
“The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar,” the statement added.
Trump and the crown prince additionally “discussed efforts to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and ways to further deepen economic cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”
Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the first Arab leader to officially meet with Trump at the White House  in March and then also met him in Riyadh last month.
Earlier this month, Riyadh and several of its allies including Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, cut ties with Qatar over accusations that Doha supports extremist groups, including some linked to Iran — a claim Tehran denies.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saudi Arabia and its allies have drawn up a list of demands to be presented to Qatar.
“We hope the list of demands will soon be presented to Qatar and will be reasonable and actionable,” he said.
“We support the Kuwaiti mediation effort and look forward to this matter moving toward a resolution,” added Tillerson, who has been tasked by Trump to oversee an end to the standoff.

— 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.