Lights, camera, action: Gala heralds rebirth of Saudi cinema

Photo showing Saudi Information Minister Awwad Alawwad (centre) placing his right palm on a plastic plinth depicting a star at the AMC cinema in the capital Riyadh before attending the first test screening in over three decades in the Kingdom, April 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Lights, camera, action: Gala heralds rebirth of Saudi cinema

  • Saudi Arabia plans to open nearly 350 cinemas, with more than 2,500 screens, by 2030
  • Movie theaters are expected to contribute more than $24 billion to the Saudi economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030

RIYADH: It was a night to remember: Cinema returned to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday with the first major movie screening in 35 years in a spectacular new theater in King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.
The gala screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther was attended by hundreds of invited guests in the sleek and chic complex — described by AMC cinema chain bosses as “the most beautiful movie theater in the world.”
As the guests took their seats, Princess Reema bint Bandar told Arab News: “It’s a privilege to be here. I hope everyone gets to enjoy the experience I’m having this evening.”
In an official opening ceremony before the movie began, AMC bosses joined Saudi government officials on the stage. Each placed their hand each on a large handprint, triggering a shower of glittering, colorful confetti on the audience. It was a magical moment — just like the movies, in fact.
Paul Hill, the general manager of AMC, told Arab News: “It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be part of the opening It’s a historic achievement. This really will be the place to go.”
The opening was overseen by the Development and Investment Entertainment Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and a partner with AMC in the new cinema complex.
Dr. Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, and Adam Aron, chief executive and president of AMC Entertainment, joined diplomats and industry experts to watch Black Panther in the first in a series of invitation-only screenings during April.
“I know for sure that Saudis are very eager to be able to watch their favorite films here in their own country, as now made possible by Vision 2030,” Dr. Alawwad said before the screening.
“This is a landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society. None of this would be possible without the visionary leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
The cinema will open to the public on Friday. “There are some surprises and secrets on how we are promoting it. The tickets will be sold online and there will be more information in 24 hours,” said AMC Vice President Jason Cole.
Three more screens will be added to the cinema complex by September. Saudi Arabia plans to open nearly 350 cinemas, with more than 2,500 screens, by 2030.


Mosque of Bones: Evidence of Prophet Muhammad’s era

Updated 25 May 2018
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Mosque of Bones: Evidence of Prophet Muhammad’s era

JEDDAH: Masjid Al-Izam (Mosque of the Bones) is a historic mosque in Al-Ula governorate, located 300 km north of Madinah.
In the ninth year after Hijrah (the emigration of Makkah’s Muslims to Madinah), as the Prophet Muhammad was on his way to battle, he marked the Qibla (the direction in which Muslims should pray) using bones because he could not find rocks or blocks.
To mark the occasion, the area’s residents built a mosque on that spot and named it Masjid Al-Izam.
It was made of stone, and mud was used to cover its walls, but it has undergone several restorations.
“Mention of the mosque can be found in many renowned scientific sources,” Abdullah Kaber, a researcher in Madinah’s development authority, told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
He said Masjid Al-Izam has attracted the attention of King Salman, who is focused on restoring a number of historic mosques across the Kingdom.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is planning to develop tourism in Al-Ula since it houses many historical sites and relics.