How to get a movie ticket in Riyadh: Try early, try often

Film fans celebrate the end of Saudi Arabia’s 35-year ban on cinemas. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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How to get a movie ticket in Riyadh: Try early, try often

  • VOX plans to open 600 screens in the Kingdom over the next five years. But until then, it’s a case of “first come, first served.”

RIYADH: Ever since movie theaters opened in Riyadh in April — bringing an end to the Kingdom’s 35-year ban on public screenings — cinema fans have been scrambling to get to the movies.

Tickets have been regularly selling out online to movies at the only two theaters in Riyadh: AMC in King Abdullah District and VOX in Riyadh Park Mall.  

“I couldn’t seem to book tickets,” said Latifa Al-Dossary, a university student. “They’re always sold out or the timings available are usually early morning. But after trying many times — excessively, obsessively — I made it my mission to get myself and my friends tickets and I succeeded, finally.”

Mona Khalid, a physician at a government hospital, has also had a hard time finding a time to take her family to the movies. “VOX sells tickets for the upcoming three days. I found out after many failed attempts at buying tickets, that early mornings are usually open and the best time to go with the kids,” she said. 

There are also limits to how many tickets filmgoers can buy. At AMC, the maximum number of tickets in one booking is limited to six. However, VOX offers a maximum of 10 tickets per booking. 

VOX plans to open 600 screens in the Kingdom over the next five years. But until then, it’s a case of “first come, first served.”


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.”