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.


Riyadh accuses Iran backed Houthi militia for the most abuse committed against Yemenis

Updated 1 min 42 sec ago
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Riyadh accuses Iran backed Houthi militia for the most abuse committed against Yemenis

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi has said that Iran is the “key actor” responsible for Yemeni suffering.

Al-Mouallimi was speaking at a Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict on Tuesday.

He added that it was laughable to hear Tehran’s representative speak at the UN in defense of Yemenis.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen, he said, is taking extreme care not to harm civilians, and has, therefore, been constantly reviewing and updating its target lists.

He said that Iranian-backed Houthi militia have been committing the biggest abuses against Yemeni civilians since taking over power three years ago in the country.