Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

Saudi Arabia is expected to become a significant box office market. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

  • Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion)

DUBAI: The big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be a billion-dollar industry by 2030, according to experts, as regional and global movie operators queue up for a ticket into the Kingdom’s hugely profitable movie market.
Saudi Arabia is expected to amass the largest share of the cinema business in the Arabian Gulf region by 2030, with hundred of cinemas and thousands of screens set to open across the Kingdom over the next 12 years.
Within months of Saudi Arabia formally ending a 35-year-long ban on cinemas, three cinema operation licenses were awarded to operate in the Kingdom, the first was to AMC Theaters, an American chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. It opened the Kingdom’s first modern cinema on April 18 and plans to open around 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and between 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 cities by 2030.
Shortly after, the second license was awarded to VOX Cinemas, now one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest movie operators. It plans to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia in the next five years, the same number of screens as the company’s regional footprint combined.
In July, it was announced the the third license had been awarded to the Al-Rashed United Group — Empire Cinema — which plans to build 30 theaters in the country over the next three years. And last month, a fourth license was awarded to Lux Entertainment Co., which plans to open 300 cinemas across the Kingdom within five years.
VOX, which plans to open 80 new screens over the next 12 months, says the Kingdom will form half of its overall revenues in the Middle East over the next five years.
“Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion),” said Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas, of which VOX Cinemas is a subsidiary.
He said the Kingdom’s box-office market is expected to become “one of the largest” in the world, with a majority of its 32-million population under the age of 30. “The market is massive and full of opportunities as the population is young and enthusiastic about cinema.”
Will Saudi Arabia ever host the world premiere of a Hollywood movie? No one’s saying right now, but with such a covetable box-office market, it may only be a matter of time.


Saudi Airlines and Etihad sign codeshare agreement

Updated 22 min 13 sec ago
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Saudi Airlines and Etihad sign codeshare agreement

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier, Saudia, and Etihad Airways, the national is the flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, have announced a new codeshare partnership, providing customers with access to more than 40 leisure and business destinations in home markets and across the world.
In addition to the codeshare agreement, the two carriers also announced plans for greater commercial cooperation in other fields, including frequent flyer program benefits, cargo, engineering and maintenance.
The codeshare agreement was signed at Saudia headquarters in Jeddah by Saleh Al-Jasser, Director General Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group.
It covers at least 41 destinations on both of the airlines’ networks and see Etihad place its “EY” code on a number of Saudia’s flights, including Abha, Al-Baha, Alula, Arar, Bisha, Dammam, Dawadmi, Gassim, Gizan, Gurayat, Hail, Hofuf, Jeddah, Jouf, Madinah, Qaisumah, Rafha, Riyadh, Sharurah, Tabuk, Taif, Turaif, Wadi-Ad-Dawasir, Wedjh, Yanbo, and Abu Dhabi. Port Sudan, Tunis, Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, Multan and Peshawar, subject to government approval.
At the same time, Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Etihad flights to Baku, Chengdu, Ahmedabad, Nagoya, Tokyo-Narita, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Belgrade, Seychelles, Chicago-O›Hare, and Abu Dhabi.
Al Jasser said: “The new partnership broadens aviation and transport links with the United Arab Emirates, building on the extensive aviation investment and strong foundation in the sector.
“With the agreement, the added network coverage enables our guests to benefit from added flexibility and convenience, as well as increase the benefits for members of both airlines’ frequent flyer plans,” reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA)
Douglas said: “The ties shared between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the deepest that the two nations have, and therefore we are extremely proud to play our role and bring the two flag carriers together in this unique partnership.
“The partnership will allow for enhanced seamless travel across the Etihad Airways and Saudia networks which we anticipate will be highly popular with business and leisure travelers, especially those looking to fly to secondary city destinations.”
At the same time, Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Etihad flights to Baku, Chengdu, Ahmedabad, Nagoya, Tokyo-Narita, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Belgrade, Seychelles, Chicago-O›Hare, and Abu Dhabi.
In addition to the codeshare, the teams at the Etihad Guest and Alfursan frequent flyer programs are finalizing discussions which would see members of each program being offered reciprocal earn and burn opportunities, according to SPA.
In the cargo world, the teams in both airlines’ divisions are in talks over greater cooperation, recognizing the increased volumes of freight traffic flowing in and out of the UAE and the Saudi Arabia.
Etihad Airways Engineering will also provide provide select maintenance services for SAUDIA aircraft at its MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) facility in Abu Dhabi.
In 2017 Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) carried more than 32 million passengers, registered over 200,000 flights and traveled more than 320 million kilometers, while SAUDIA Cargo carried more than 637,000 tons of freight.
Carriers in the region continue to post positive growth, and in 2017 alone, they flew more than 216.1 million passengers, up by 4.6 percent over 2016 and representing 5.3 percent of the market share, according to the data provided by the International Air Transport Association.
Between November 2017 and March 2017, more than 400,000 passengers had been served by the shared flights, while 250,000 more had booked their trips in advance.