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.”


DiplomaticQuarter: Friendship to the fore as Koreans celebrate National Foundation Day

The event marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2018
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DiplomaticQuarter: Friendship to the fore as Koreans celebrate National Foundation Day

  • The event, on Oct. 15 in the Park Hyatt Lazard’s ballroom, marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C

RIYADH: Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Jeddah Lee Sang-kyoun stressed the importance of the relationship between South Korea and Saudi Arabia as he welcomed guests to a special celebration of Korea’s 4,351st National Foundation Day.

The event, on Oct. 15 in the Park Hyatt Lazard’s ballroom, marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C.

The diplomat and his family warmly welcomed the guests, including Ambassador Jamal Balkhayour, the director general of the Makkah region branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as they arrived at the venue, which was lavishly decorated with flowers and the Korean flag. 

In his opening speech, Lee said: “Korea and Saudi Arabia have shared strong companionship as ‘Rafiq,’ (friends) since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962.” 

He also emphasized the common values shared by the two countries, and their indispensable partnership and cooperation in a number of sectors, beginning with construction and energy in the early 1970s and developing through the years to now include the likes of renewable and nuclear energy, culture and more.

“Notably, the two countries launched a ministerial-level committee, Saudi-Korea Vision 2030, to bolster bilateral cooperation, focusing on supporting business ventures between the two countries,” Lee added.

He said he hopes to see an expansion of cultural and artistic ties between the nations, while also strengthening “person-to-person” contact between young people and future generations.

“Such cultural and human exchange will be a meaningful step toward fostering the values shared by the two countries — working in collaboration for future success and common goals,” he said.

The consul general explained that strengthening such human bonds will encourage an understanding between people of a kind that can only happen through art, history, academia and scientific exchange, which is why the consulate is establishing a cultural center as a “signature window for cultural exchange.” 

The consulate will also set up a foundation for students to “foster the common grounds in their interests and hopes” through an exchange program for Korean and Saudi youths.

Lee added that 2018 has been an important year for South Korea, with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang, the Inter-Korean Summit, and the Singapore Summit between North Korea and the US.

As the celebration continued, Korean residents were brimming with pride and excitement as they celebrated their National Foundation Day in the Kingdom, while meeting and mingling with friends from Saudi Arabia and other nations.