First Saudi cinema in 35 years to open on April 18

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

First Saudi cinema in 35 years to open on April 18

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.


Saudi foreign ministry condemns comments made by Lebanon foreign minister

Charbel Wehbe, Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut, Lebanon in 2020. (Reuters/File Photo)
Charbel Wehbe, Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut, Lebanon in 2020. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 50 min 9 sec ago

Saudi foreign ministry condemns comments made by Lebanon foreign minister

Charbel Wehbe, Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut, Lebanon in 2020. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • In a statement, Saudi foreign ministry said comments were inconsistent with the most basic diplomatic norms

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned the Lebanese ambassador to the Kingdom to express condemnation of comments made by Lebanon's foreign minister.

The ministry said it strongly condemned the comments made in a television interview by caretaker Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Charbel Wehbe, against the Kingdom, its people, and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In a statement, the ministry also said the comments were inconsistent with the simplest diplomatic norms and were not consistent with the historical relations between the two brotherly peoples.

“Due to any consequences that may develop because of the Lebanese minister’s disparaging statement, the Kingdom’s ministry of foreign affairs summoned the Lebanese ambassador to express and relay its strict censure and rejection to those statements and handed him an official note of protestation,” the statement added.

Saudi Arabia summoned Lebanon's ambassador to the kingdom over the remarks, handing over a memorandum about what were described as Wehbe's "offences".

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) asked Wehbe to make a formal apology to Gulf states.

The UAE denounced the statements, describing them as “disgraceful and racist.”

Lebanese politicians also criticised Wehbe.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said Tuesday Wehbe’s comments on Gulf countries reflected his personal opinion and not the opinion of the state.

“The presidency assures the depth of the brotherly relationship between Lebanon and Gulf countries and at the forefront Saudi Arabia,” a statement by the presidency said.

“What was said by the foreign minister last night is his personal opinion and does not reflect in any way that of the Lebanese state.”


Saudi family infected with COVID-19 evacuated from India 

Saudi family infected with COVID-19 evacuated from India 
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi family infected with COVID-19 evacuated from India 

Saudi family infected with COVID-19 evacuated from India 

RIYADH: A Saudi family infected with coronavirus has returned to the Kingdom from India, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Monday.
The family was airlifted by the Air Medical Evacuation Department of Health Services at the Saudi Ministry of Defense in an implementation of directives issued by Saudi King Salman.  
The plane arrived at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh, with all precautionary measures taken by crew members to combat the spread COVID-19.
Previously, Saudi Arabia transported more than 74 cases infected with COVID-19 through its medical air evacuation planes without infecting the medical and aircrews with the virus.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
  • King Hamad congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway
  • King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman discussed in a phone call with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issues of common interest and relations between both Kingdoms, state news agency SPA reported.
King Hamad further congratulated King Salman on the re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway, following the coronavirus lockdown, Bahrain’s news agency BNA reported.
Only those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who have recovered from the disease are allowed to leave the Kingdom.
Meanwhile King Salman thanked Bahrain’s ruler for his efforts to further strengthen the relations between both Kingdoms.


Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
  • About 385 flights to international destinations took off from nine airports in the Kingdom on Monday

JEDDAH: The terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah were once again bustling with passengers on Monday, as international travel resumed more than a year after it was suspended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Arrivals and departures resumed at the Kingdom’s air, land and sea ports at 1 a.m., with Saudi citizens who have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, free to travel.
As passengers flocked to the airport from early Monday morning, the flow of traffic was well-organized and smooth. Entry to terminals was restricted to people with valid tickets and helpers accompanying disabled travelers.
As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy, approved by the Saudi Central Bank, that will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 in other countries.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation also issued updated travel guidelines, including requirements for the use of the country’s Tawakkalna COVID-19 tracking app. The conditions apply to all travelers, regardless of whether their trip is for leisure, study, work or to receive medical treatment.
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. In addition, about 300 vehicles crossed land borders into Qatar during the morning.
The Kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries. It said it will operate 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.

As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy.

Ibrahim Al-Omar, the airline’s director general, said that Saudia has implemented more than 50 precautionary measures throughout all stages of the flight process, and has been ranked among the Top-10 safest airlines in the world by the Airline Passenger Experience Association. He added that since the pandemic began, the airline has operated more than 100,000 flights, transporting more than 10 million passengers.
The destination of the first international flight to depart from Riyadh on Monday was Hyderabad in India, while the first flight of the day from Jeddah was bound for Dhaka in Bangladesh. The first international flight to land in Riyadh on Monday was from Cairo, and the first arrival in Jeddah was from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

INNUMBERS

More than 18,000 people traveled from King Abdulaziz Airport on Monday.

More than 47 flights operated from the Kingdom within 6.

Despite the resumption of international flights, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a ban remains on direct or indirect travel to 13 countries without prior permission to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The countries this applies to are: Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Belarus, India, Lebanon, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Venezuela.
In addition, the ministry said travelers heading to Bahrain must have received two doses of a vaccine, and children under the age of 18 are not eligible to travel there. Diplomats and individuals accompanying them, air navigation and ship crews, workers in companies that are part of the health supply chain, and truck drivers are exempt from these rules. People who arrived at the King Fahd Causeway, on the border with Bahrain, but did not meet the requirements were turned away on Monday.
Travelers returning to the Kingdom after visiting a foreign country will be required to quarantine at home for seven days. However foreign visitors, including members of diplomatic missions arriving by air from most countries, will no longer need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Those who are not vaccinated must provide proof of a negative PCR test, issued by an approved laboratory within 72 hours of flying to the Kingdom, otherwise they will not be allowed to board the plane.
With the exception of Saudi citizens, resident expats and GCC citizens, all people arriving in Saudi Arabia must have medical insurance that will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals.
On Jan. 29, Saudi authorities postponed the reopening of air, sea and land ports and extended the travel ban from Mar. 31 to May 17. Further information about international travel, including the rules and requirements, is available at www.saudia.com.


Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
Hundreds of individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in different part of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 18 May 2021

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Covid rule violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred

JEDDAH: More than 250 people have been fined for breaking social distancing rules in 24 hours, including 72 women attending a wedding where both guests and the host were fined.
For the fourth day in a row, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia remained below 1,000 with a significant rise in recoveries.
There were 886 new cases recorded in the Kingdom on Monday – a total of 433,980 people have been infected with the disease in Saudi Arabia since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile a further 1,127 people have recovered, taking the total number of recoveries to 418,914, meaning the Kingdom’s recovery rate has increased to 96.5 percent, marking a significant decline in the epidemiological curve.
There were 7,892 active cases, 1,377 of them critical, an increase of just one patient in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• A total of 886 new cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday.

• The highest number of cases was recorded in the Riyadh region.

• More than 250 individuals fined for violating health protocols.

The regions with the highest number of infections were Riyadh with 281 cases and Makkah with 250. Twelve new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 7,174.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred. Of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million people, 33.6 percent have now been vaccinated with at least one jab.
On Monday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs closed nine mosques temporarily in six regions, after cases of COVID-19 were detected among worshipers.
The ministry stated that the total number of mosques that had been closed now amounted to 1,210, with 1,188 subsequently reopened after the completion of disinfection.