Lights, camera, action: The night movies came back to Saudi Arabia

Children await the film screening in Jeddah on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 16 January 2018
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Lights, camera, action: The night movies came back to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Film fans went to the movies in Saudi Arabia at the weekend for the first time in 35 years.
Feature-length animated children’s films were screened at a makeshift cinema set up in a cultural hall in Jeddah — and full-scale movie theaters could open as early as March as authorities finalize regulations and a legal framework.
“We are working with government officials and private companies. In 90 days, we will have the details,” General Commission for Audiovisual Media spokesman Abdullah Al-Shamlani told Arab News.
Meanwhile cinema chiefs are doing their best to make film fans feel at home, with a projector, a red carpet and a popcorn machine at their temporary venue.
“There is no infrastructure for movie theaters, so we are trying to take advantage of venues to approximate the cinematic form,” said Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand has organized a week of screenings.
“We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on Dec. 11 to permit movie theaters.”
After watching The Emoji Movie with his wife and daughter on Sunday evening, Sultan Al-Otaibi, 28, said Saudis were happy to see movies in a cinema instead of staying at home.
“It’s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity at the weekend. It is a step that was very late in coming but thank God it’s happening now.”
Saudi authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry it hopes will contribute more then SR90 billion ($24 billion) to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.
Regional and international cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market, keen to tap the spending power of the young people who make up roughly 70 percent of the population.
“I want to see everything because it is something new for Saudis,” said 30-year-old moviegoer Ibtisam Abu Talib, 30
“I hope everything is available — action, romance, children’s films, comedy. Everything, God willing.”


Minister of Islamic Affairs meets senior guests of Hajj and Umrah 2018 program

Updated 37 sec ago
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Minister of Islamic Affairs meets senior guests of Hajj and Umrah 2018 program

  • Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said that the hosting program is a service for scholars, preachers, sheikhs and influential people in the Islamic world
  • Al-Asheikh highlighted the importance of the role played by scholars to explain the message of Islam and the moderate approach that fights radicalism and extremism

JEDDAH: The hospitality of King Salman highlights his interest in Islam, scholars, as well as the security and stability of Islamic countries, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, said during a speech to senior guests of the Hajj and Umrah 2018 program.
Al-Asheikh conveyed the greetings of the king and the crown prince. “I welcome the guests of the program in Saudi Arabia, their second country,” he said. “I wish you all good times of faith in the holy sites, as well as easy Hajj and Umrah rituals. May you enjoy days full of faith next to the Kaaba.”
He said that the hosting program is a service for scholars, preachers, sheikhs and influential people in the Islamic world. There is no doubt that the Islamic world has many prominent elites that have great influence on education and fatwa; this is why the program stresses conveying the Saudi message of serving the Muslim world to these elites, he said.
Al-Asheikh highlighted the importance of the role played by scholars to explain the message of Islam and the moderate approach that fights radicalism and extremism. “You are the best model in your country. You carry the message of Islam and spread the truth there, explaining many crucial concepts,” he said.
He said that King Salman and the crown prince are continuously supervising work to develop the holy sites and organize the Hajj and Umrah journey for the best of the pilgrims.
The minister listened to the speeches of senior guests who noted the continuous efforts of the Kingdom under the leadership the king and the crown prince, serving Islam and Muslims and defending their causes.
The senior guests thanked the Kingdom for this program that reflects the leadership’s attention to scholars and influential figures in countries around the world.
Al-Asheikh has started his visit to the guests’ residence in Makkah, inspecting the hotel facilities, and making sure all committees are ready. During his visit to the medical committee, he checked on the guests and emphasized the need to provide medical care around the clock and ensure that there is nothing to impede Hajj rituals.