Cinemas will reopen in Saudi Arabia as part of Vision 2030

An undated photo shows a cinema house in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province inside Aramco. (Courtesy: Social media)
Updated 12 December 2017

Cinemas will reopen in Saudi Arabia as part of Vision 2030

JEDDAH: Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as early as March 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information (MCI) has announced.
The Board of the General Commission for Audio Visual Medial (GCAM) chaired by the MCI’s Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution on Monday allowing the authority to grant licenses to cinemas.
In a media statement received by Arab News, the supervisor of the cinema sector, Fahd Al-Muammar, said that GCAM, as the sector regulator, would begin preparing the necessary practical steps and procedures for running cinema houses in the Kingdom.
He stressed that all cinematic shows must be consistent with the deeply rooted social values in order to ensure presenting purposeful and attractive entertaining activities, that do not violate the ethical principles in the Kingdom.
Abdullah Al-Shamlani, spokesman for GCAM told Arab news that the commission would, after three months, issue all the official regulations for running cinema houses in the Kingdom.
“Licensing is due to begin after readying the show regulations and rules in public places within a period not exceeding 90 days,” Al-Shamlani said. He added that their role, as a watchdog, is to monitor and supervise the local cinematic scene after regulations are established.
Words of praise have since spread on social media as individuals in the film and cinema industry as well as viewers shared their glee and joy. The announcement comes as part of the Vision 2030 program in the Kingdom.
“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” Alawwad said in his statement.
Saleem Homsi, a Syrian producer living in the Kingdom, also found the news to be a major game changer — for him personally and for many producers in the film industry. “We saw it coming. There are major changes happening and it was bound to happen. I’ve been an independent film producer for the past two years or so, and one major problem would be funding. People are always hesitant to invest in something when they don’t know if there’s a future to or not. But now, there is an investment that is worthwhile.”
He believes that with the announcement, not only could his film see the light in the Kingdom’s theaters but it will be easier for him as he ventures on in the world of independent filmmaking.
“The film industry is one that is part of every culture, and I for one am very enthusiastic about being a part in creating a film industry in Saudi Arabia. There have been commercial films and TV shows but we’re very passionate about making films for us, not commercially,” said Homsi.
Saudi director and actress Reem Habib.

Reem Habib, a longtime Saudi director and actress, and her husband Abdulhakeem Hakeem, also a veteran producer and director, were overwhelmed with the news.
“After 35 years of absence, it’s a complete change of direction for the filmmaking industry in Saudi Arabia. When we say making, we’re talking a whole new industry being brought from the ground up.
“We’ll be providing the ultimate opportunity to anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of the industry, and this will create jobs. Instead of looking abroad for a cinematographer, a gaffer, a runner and what not, we’ll have a Saudi to do it instead of looking for a foreigner living in the country or bringing in an expert from abroad…”
Reem believes that films reflect societies. They can indirectly ask the authorities to change a certain aspect in society. She believes that we have many issues that we are battling on our own. Films can be the added platform for these issues to be heard.

Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

Riyadh hosts the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum in April with its focus on investment opportunities in the urban heritage. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018

Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

  • Forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage hosts the forum each year in a different part of the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi capital will host the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum (NUHF) next April to coincide with World Heritage Day, with its focus on investment opportunities in urban heritage.

“The four-day National Built Heritage Forum will be launched in Riyadh on April 15,” said Majed Alshadeed, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), on Thursday, adding that the forum will culminate on April 18, World Heritage Day. World Heritage Day is celebrated every year on April 18 with the aim of preserving the human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the relevant organizations in the field.

Organized by SCTH under the umbrella of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, the 6th forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage.

The forum will look at developing business models in the management and development of — and investment in — urban heritage sites, as well as the development of crafts and handicrafts.

The heritage forum is organized each year by the SCTH in a different province in collaboration with the relevant governorates, municipalities and local universities, following the recommendations of the first International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic Countries, which was held in Riyadh in 2010.

The first session of the NUHF was organized in Makkah province, the second in the Eastern Province, the third in Madinah province, the fourth in Asir province and the fifth in Al-Qassim province.

Next year’s forum seeks to invest the expertise, knowledge and experience that the SCTH has gained and transfer it to the four economic sectors working in urban heritage. These sectors are construction, restoration and contracting, site operation, human resources development, and services and industries related to urban heritage.

The forum will include the distribution of prizes to the projects winning the Prince Sultan bin Salman Urban Heritage Awards, exhibitions, scientific sessions, workshops and business meetings with Saudi and international experts and consultants to discuss investment opportunities in urban heritage. There will also be a specialized expo for companies and institutions working in the sectors of the economics of architectural heritage, restoration and engineering consultancy.