US chain AMC signs deal to build and operate movie theaters in Saudi Arabia

This screen grab shows a scene from a popular movie Wadjda, by the renowned Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour.
Updated 13 December 2017
0

US chain AMC signs deal to build and operate movie theaters in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Giant US cinema chain AMC Entertainment has signed a deal to build and operate movie theaters in Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom lifted a decades-old ban.
The deal, announced by AMC in a statement and confirmed by Saudi state media on Tuesday, will see the company form a joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s vast Public Investment Fund.
AMC said it hoped to “put the industry’s best foot forward” in Saudi Arabia as the country opens up to modern entertainment.
“This announcement is a historic moment for the theatrical exhibition industry and a tremendous opportunity to connect AMC’s movie products with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s more than 30 million citizens, many of whom we know are movie fans based on their regular visits to cinemas in neighboring countries,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in the statement.
The Kansas-based company is the biggest cinema operator in the world, with 11,000 screens concentrated in the US and Europe, many operating under its Odeon brand.
It will face stiff competition from regional heavyweights, namely Dubai-based VOX Cinemas, which is the leading operator in the Gulf and Middle East with more than 300 screens.
The CEO of VOX parent company Majid Al-Futtaim, Alain Bejjani, told AFP on Monday that it would be looking to expand into Saudi Arabia.
“We... are committed to developing Vox Cinemas in Saudi Arabia and (to) make sure that every one of our Saudi customers will have a Vox Cinema close to them where they will be able to experience what they have been experiencing outside Saudi Arabia — in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it was lifting the ban as part of a far-reaching reform drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The government said it would begin licensing cinemas immediately and the first movie theaters are expected to open in March.
The country is expected to have more than 300 cinemas — with over 2,000 screens — by 2030, giving rise to an industry that would contribute $24 billion to the economy, according to the Saudi culture ministry.


Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

King Salman arrived in Al-Jouf on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 21 November 2018
0

Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

  • The king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure

JEDDAH: Projects worth several billion riyals are to be unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s king this week as he continues his tour of the country’s regions.
King Salman arrived in the province of Al-Jouf on Tuesday night where he will announce the construction of a new city, bolstering the local economy and creating thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia’s most northern region.
On Thursday, the king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 
He will lay the foundation stone for the first phase of the SR85 billion ($22 billion) city in Toriaf province — worth SR55 billion —  and is also set to inaugurate the projects and facilities of the second phase — worth SR30 billion.
In the past two months the king has visited a number of major cities, announcing projects and initiatives to develop the Kingdom inline with Vision 2030 — a broad strategic plan to diversify the economy and end dependence on oil revenues.
Before arriving in Al-Jouf, King Salman visited Tabuk, where several projects worth more than SR11 billion were launched.
He also met the team heading Amaala, the ultra-luxurious tourist destination that was unveiled in September and dubbed the “Riviera of the Middle East,” and was briefed on plans for the new attraction.
King Salman praised Amaala’s objectives to contribute to promoting economic diversification, creating investment opportunities for the private sector, and developing the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia while preserving the cultural and environmental heritage.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced yet another major project in western Saudi Arabia.
Wadi Al-Disah Development Project, which is expected to become one of the Kingdom’s most environmentally diverse tourist attractions, adds to a number of already launched ventures on western coastal regions.
PIF will establish a company to develop Wadi Al-Disah in accordance with international best practices regarding environmental conservation and sustainable development.
In addition to this week’s tour, the king has so far visited Madinah, Qassim and Hail.