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 defense partnerships signed at Paris Air Show

Updated 45 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi defense partnerships signed at Paris Air Show

PARIS: Saudi defense chiefs signed a number of strategic partnerships with major global companies while taking part in the prestigious Paris Air Show.
The pavilion of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) company received a succession of key aerospace-industry figures during the Kingdom’s first exhibition appearance at the world’s largest aviation event.
High-profile visitors welcomed by SAMI chief executive offer, Andreas Schwer, included chairman of the SAMI board of directors, Ahmad Al-Khatib, deputy chairman of the SAMI board of directors and chairman of the board of directors of the Local Content and Government Procurement Commission, Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, and president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation, Abdulhadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri.
The pavilion also received a senior delegation from the Saudi Presidency of State Security, along with the director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser.
During the second day of the air show, which runs until June 23 at Le Bourget airport in Paris, SAMI officials took part in meetings and signed strategic partnerships with global businesses involved in the four areas of the company’s work, namely air and ground systems, weapons, missiles and defense electronics.
At a signing ceremony in the SAMI pavilion, company chiefs also put pen to paper on a joint project agreement with US aerospace and defense company L3 Technologies for cooperation in the field of electro-optical and infra-red technology and special task systems inside Saudi Arabia. In February, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the joint project.