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.

 


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 4 min 35 sec ago

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.