Vue to open 30 KSA cinemas

Vue International is eyeing expansion in Saudi Arabia. (Photo courtesy of Vue)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Vue to open 30 KSA cinemas

LONDON: Vue International will open up to 30 multiplex cinemas in Saudi Arabia over the next three years after signing a deal with Riyadh-based Abdulmohsin Al-Hokair Holding Group.
The official memorandum of understanding signed on Monday follows the announcement last December that Saudi Arabia would lift the ban on commercial cinemas for the first time in 35 years.
Vue International has been in talks with Riyadh since last October. The cinema chain was the only operator to be invited to the Future Investment Initiative event held that month.
“This is a huge moment in the history of global cinema development for the exhibition industry and we are honored to be partnering with such a well-regarded and prestigious operator,” said Tim Richards, founder and chief executive, Vue International in a statement.
“Cinema has been an exciting form of out-of-home entertainment for over 100 years and the opening up of the Kingdom is testament to the industry’s continuing growth and resilience.”
The first cinemas could be opened later this year, according to Vue International.
Al-Hokair Group is known in the region for building and operating leisure and hospitality complexes, and currently owns and operates three shopping centers, 79 entertainment centers and 45 hotels in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and Egypt.


Trial to open for Philippine journalist critical of Duterte

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa waves to photographers after posting bail outside a court building in Manila on March 29, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Trial to open for Philippine journalist critical of Duterte

  • Duterte, who denies being behind the case, has singled out Rappler for criticism, also banning it from covering his public events and forbidding government officials from talking to Rappler reporters

MANILA: High-profile Philippine journalist Maria Ressa’s libel trial opens Tuesday in a case that press freedom advocates see as government retaliation for her news site’s critical reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ressa, who leads online outlet Rappler and was named a Time Magazine “Person of the Year” in 2018 for her journalism, is out on bail and faces years in prison if convicted.
This case is among a string of criminal charges that have hit Ressa and Rappler over the past year, prompting allegations that authorities are targeting her and her team for their work,
The news portal has reported extensively and often critically on Duterte’s policies, including a deadly crackdown that rights groups say may be a crime against humanity.
“The message that the government is sending is very clear,” Ressa told reporters in February as she posted bail after spending the night in jail over the libel case: “Be silent or you’re next.”
The case that opens Tuesday centers on a Rappler report from 2012 about a businessman’s alleged ties to a then-judge of the nation’s top court.
Government investigators initially dismissed the businessman’s 2017 complaint about the article, but state prosecutors later decided to file charges.
The legal foundation of the case is a controversial “cybercrime law” aimed at online offenses ranging from stalking to child pornography.
Ressa, 55, argues the law did not take effect until months after the story was published.
Government lawyers say it is effectively a new article since Rappler had updated it in 2014 to fix a typographical error.
While the plaintiff is a private citizen, like all criminal cases in the Philippines the suit is prosecuted by government lawyers.
Ressa and Rappler also face tax and corporate fraud cases.
Ressa’s presence in court is not mandatory and she is not expected to attend the hearing, according to Rappler.
The libel case has drawn international attention, with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressing concern over democratic rights.
Prominent rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who joined Ressa’s legal team this month, said the case echoed a recurring theme in her work, where “journalists who expose abuses face arrest while those who commit the abuses do so with impunity.”
Duterte, who denies being behind the case, has singled out Rappler for criticism, also banning it from covering his public events and forbidding government officials from talking to Rappler reporters.