First cinema in Jeddah opens

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Bader Alzahrani, center, CEO, General Commission of Audiovisual Media, cuts the ribbon at Monday’s opening of the first cinema in Jeddah. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Jeddah has the region’s first dedicated children’s cinema. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Jeddah has the region’s first dedicated children’s cinema. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Ushers welcome moviegoers during Monday’s opening of the first cinema in Jeddah. (Photo by Huda Bashatah )
Updated 29 January 2019

First cinema in Jeddah opens

  • Total revenue expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2030: PwC Middle East
  • Decades-long cinema ban ended last April.

JEDDAH: Jeddah’s first cinema opened its doors to the public on Monday, and an industry expert told Arab News he expected up to 35 million people in the Kingdom to go to the movies every year. 

Cinemas were banned in the country for decades until the first one opened last April in Riyadh. 

Cameron Mitchell, CEO of the regional cinema chain Majid Al Futtaim, said Saudi Arabia had the capacity for high audience numbers.

 

He was speaking at the opening ceremony for Vox Cinemas in Jeddah‘s Red Sea Mall.

“If you look at Dubai we have some 15 million customers there per annum. On the short-term goal in Saudi Arabia we are expecting the market to reach about 30 million customers,” he said.

Research from PwC Middle East in November estimated that total cinema revenue in Saudi Arabia would reach $1.5 billion by 2030. The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people. 

Last year, Vox Cinemas said it would be investing $533 million to open 600 theaters in the next five years.

“Some 95 percent of our employees here are from Saudi Arabia. In any country where we operate cinemas, we localize the team. We have an Egyptian team in Egypt and a Lebanese team in Lebanon and of course Saudis in Saudi Arabia,” Mitchell said. 

“We expect the cinemas in the Red Sea Mall to be showing…a mix of films, probably about 300 films per year with at least six new movies every single week. It will take a while for us to have enough cinemas for everyone to get to go to the cinema whenever they want to. 

“In my opinion, the cinema is a good place for families to spend time together in a social environment, especially in hot summer days, when outdoor activities are limited.” 

 

There will be cinemas in Tabuk by the end of this year or by early 2020 and the Saudi government has been very helpful, he said, adding: “We got the license last April and we were keen to do the required steps and follow the regulations, and that went smoothly.”

There would be no issues with gender segregation as there were cinemas for families and separate ones for bachelors, according to Mitchell.

The lifting of the cinema ban is part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.

 


US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

Updated 39 min 1 sec ago

US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

  • Consul General Rachna Korhonen: I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are
  • Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year

DHAHRAN: The US Consulate General in Dhahran hosted its 2020 National Day reception on Feb. 19 to celebrate 244 years of American Independence, and the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy.

Consul General Rachna Korhonen and her husband Juha Korhonen welcomed the deputy governor of the Eastern Province, Khalid Al-Battal, and deputy governor of Alkhobar, Abdullah bin Ali Al-Seef, as the guests of honor.

Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year.

“Seventy-five years ago, two great leaders met aboard the USS Quincy. President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz met to chart the future of our bilateral ties. This first encounter between a US president and a Saudi King laid the foundation for the broad strategic partnership the US and Saudi Arabia share today. Beyond partnership, President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz forged a personal friendship that is at the heart of the strong ties our two countries share today,” said Korhonen.

She added: “As the first woman to be consul general here, it has been an exciting journey for me. I arrived to Dhahran in August 2017, to a country undergoing remarkable changes.  Vision 2030 has opened new possibilities, tourism opportunities are growing, women are driving and attending sporting events. I have said this many times and it is still true: I have the best job in the best place at the best time.

“Most of all, I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya (Eastern Province) who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are. I have made friendships that I know are going to last me a lifetime. When I leave here this summer, I will certainly leave a piece of my heart here but I also plan to take a little piece of your heart with me.”