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.”


Over 800 foreign journalists to cover Hajj

Updated 18 August 2018
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Over 800 foreign journalists to cover Hajj

  • Facilities have been provided for 151 media institutions and 27 international networks
  • Six official broadcasts and broadcasts in 10 languages will provide news bulletins and daily programs on Hajj

JEDDAH: More than 800 foreign media workers will cover the Hajj rituals, Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, Saudi minister of media, has announced.

In addition, facilities have been provided for 151 media institutions and 27 international networks, while six official broadcasts and broadcasts in 10 languages will provide news bulletins and daily programs on Hajj.

Al-Awwad thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the government’s continuing efforts to provide the best services and security for Hajj pilgrims from around the world.

He said Saudi Arabia welcomes all Muslims to perform this religious rite, rejecting attempts to politicize or use Hajj for purposes other than worship.

Al-Awwad made his comments during a briefing on preparations for receiving local and international media representatives to cover the pilgrimage. He said the ministry has equipped seven media centers in Makkah and the holy sites to serve journalists and media personnel from inside and outside the Kingdom.

Sixteen digital channels will work around the clock to cover the Hajj season in six languages.

The ministry last year launched the Communication International Center and its account on Twitter @CICSaudi to enhance relations with the international media and pursue a more open policy to the global audience.

It also began to broadcast information and document data on events, facts and humanitarian works and services in the Kingdom in several languages, primarily English, French and German.

Al-Awwad said the ministry had contributed to the launch of a digital media platform documenting the creative work of government agencies, highlighting their efforts, disseminating the Kingdom’s media message locally and internationally, and presenting the governmental media work under one platform in a professional way.