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
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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.


Saudi Commission on Tourism and Heritage chief on official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Mohammad Abdulhameed is raising his daughter Maria single-handedly. (AN photo)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Saudi Commission on Tourism and Heritage chief on official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina 

JEDDAH: The president of Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Tourism and National Heritage arrived in Sarajevo on Monday, as part of an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has expressed King Salman’s sincere greetings to the people and the government of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He was then received by the chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, at their headquarters in the capital, Sarajevo. 

Prince Sultan is on an official state visit to the Balkan state upon the instructions of King Salman, who is keen to bolster ties with the country and open new horizons of cooperation between both states.