First Saudi cinema in 35 years to open on April 18

Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad (L) and AMC CEO Adam Aron present the first license for the US-based movie theater company to operate cinemas in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 05 April 2018
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First Saudi cinema in 35 years to open on April 18

  • AMC plans to open its first new movie theater in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on April 18
  • Some 350 cinemas with more than 2,500 screens will be opened by 2030
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information has signed an agreement with AMC to open around 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years.
The license, the first of its kind, will allow one of the world’s largest film companies, to operate cinemas in the Kingdom.
Under the license, AMC plans to open its first new movie theater in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on April 18.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Public Investment Fund in November 2017 to discuss potential trade cooperation opportunities.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of 32 million, mostly under the age of 30, is expected to be the region’s largest market for movie theaters.
Last December, the Ministry of Culture and Information announced that commercial cinemas would be allowed to operate in the Kingdom starting from 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.
Some 350 cinemas with more than 2,500 screens will be opened by 2030.
Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad, Minister of Culture and Information, said that granting the first license provides important investment opportunities for the cinema industry. 
He pointed out that the Saudi market is large and most of the population is under the age of 30, so they are eager to watch their favorite films in their country.
He added that the goal of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is to improve the quality of life by providing additional leisure opportunities. He pointed out that the opening of cinemas will help support the local economy and contribute to the creation of new jobs.
The cinemas will not require men and women to sit separately, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.
Vision 2030 has set a target of raising Saudi Arabia’s annual spending on cultural and recreational activities from 2.9% of total Saudi household spending to 6% by 2030.
Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, said the company is following with great admiration the creative movement of development projects in the Kingdom to open new economic sectors.
“We are looking forward to providing entertainment services that will enable everyone to spend an enjoyable time playing world-class film shows across the Kingdom.
AMC’s entry into the Saudi Arabian market comes in partnership with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) through its wholly-owned Leisure Development and Investment Company.
The move to allow movie theaters to open up a local market with annual ticket sales of up to $1bn is what makes other leading movie chains keen to enter as the largest market in the Gulf region.
AMC Theaters is an American movie theater chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. Founded in 1920, AMC has the largest share of the American theater market ahead of Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Theaters.

Decoder

AMC Theaters

AMC Theaters is an American movie theater chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. Founded in 1920, AMC has the largest share of the American theater market ahead of Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Theaters.


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”