Investors urged to open cinemas in small Saudi cities

Saudi cinemas were in third place for ticket sales in the Middle East in the second quarter of 2019. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 28 July 2019

Investors urged to open cinemas in small Saudi cities

  • General Commission for Audiovisual Media facilitates procedures in obtaining licenses

JEDDAH: The excitement of the reopening of cinemas in the Kingdom has been casting a spell over the people of all ages, making the cinema industry an extremely popular field to invest in. 

The General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) has called on investors wishing to establish or operate cinemas in small- and medium-sized cities to communicate with the commission to facilitate their procedures and to help them obtain operating licenses, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

The call came as figures showed that Saudi cinemas were in third place for ticket sales in the Middle East in the second quarter of 2019.

Seven movie theaters have been opened in three major cities to date, and 27 theaters will be opened in seven cities by the end of 2019.


• IMAX Red Sea Mall opened in the first quarter of 2019, and is ranked the 5th worldwide in highest gross box office.

• IMAX Riyadh Park also opened in the first quarter of 2019 and is ranked 3rd worldwide in highest gross box office.

The GCAM has dedicated the following email address to respond to inquiries from interested investors: [email protected]

The investment opportunity is a good call for entertainment in secondary cities, said Shaheen Mohammed, head of operations at Lulu Hypermarkets in the Kingdom.

“If you look at our footprint in Saudi Arabia, you can see our major expansion in secondary cities in Saudi Arabia. We are in Tabuk, Hail, Al-Ahsa, Jubail and we are going to be in Taif. We have already got into an agreement since the announcement to do a cinema in Al-Ahsa,” he said.

“In all the cities where we are present, we are planning to allocate an area for cinemas to open. They are already a destination for people to shop in these secondary cities, the attribute is already made, it will be very easy for the cinemas to open.


• 2 cinemas in 2018.

• 27 cinemas by the end of 2019.

• 80 cinemas by 2020.

• 1m tickets sold in one year.

“This is a very good move from the Kingdom’s entertainment authorities, given the fact that there is a lack of entertainment options in secondary cities, other than the small kids’ entertainment which has existed for a long time. This will take the entertainment dimension to a new level in a way that the whole family can go and enjoy the cinema.

“In secondary cities, people tend to go out of the country, they go to Dubai or Bahrain. A lot of the spending that has been made in places like Dubai will be diverted to the secondary cities, which will be a very good sign for local retailers as well.”


The spread of cinemas in Saudi Arabia will include the 13 regions: Al-Jouf, Tabuk, Hail, Madinah, Makkah, Asir, Jazan, Northern Borders, Qassim, Riyadh, Eastern Province, Al-Baha and Najran.

Mohammed said: “We have three pieces of land in Yanbu — for the hypermarket, entertainment and cinema. These have been signed and we are waiting for the cinema operator to come and join hands with us ...”

In April 2018, the first cinema was opened in Riyadh by AMC Cinema, starting with 2 screens in 2018. There were 268 screens planned in 2019 and 700 by 2020.

According to a study by PwC Middle East, a global advisory firm, the Kingdom’s cinema industry — which will serve a population of more than 32 million, the majority of whom are under the age of 30 — is expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

Updated 17 November 2019

Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

  • Waheed Jalal's voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations

RIYADH: Visitors to Riyadh’s first anime expo stopped by the first panel on Saturday unaware that they would be leaving the stage with memories renewed of their favorite voice actors of all time.

Waheed Jalal and Jihad Al-Atrashi will forever live on in the hearts of fans of “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island (Takarajima),” the two shows that introduced the Arab world to anime in the 1970s.

Jalal, whose voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations, expressed how delighted he was to be with the audience.

“I want to thank you and your Kingdom of generosity and culture,” he said.

Al-Atrash, who portrayed Duke Fleed, echoed his sentiments: “You are great people with great values, thank you to the people of the Kingdom that stand next to people of all nations.”

Jalal was touched by the audience’s love and warm welcome, “You guys are the reason we continued this far, without you it wouldn’t have been possible,” he told them.

“We’re persevering to this day because people loved these characters we portrayed so much, our other works pale in comparison,” he added.

Jalal said that the reason “Grendizer” remained with so many people is because of the values and morals depicted in the show, teaching generations to be loyal and loving to their nation and their people.

Artist and creator Ibrahim Al-Lami. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The voice acting pair talked about the importance of speaking in formal Arabic in these shows. Jalal said it’s because “you’re presenting to the entire Arab world.”

Local dialects would be difficult for others to understand, so we must all aspire to perfect our formal Arabic, added Jalal.

Before concluding the talk, a teaser was played of the first Saudi anime “Makkeen” by artist and creator, Ibrahim Al-Lami, who announced that 60 percent of the work was completed through local efforts.

“We’ll introduce a new work that is by our people, written by our people and voiced by our people,” he said to the audience.

The work will feature characters voiced by Jalal and Al-Atrash, who have become symbolic to the Arab anime world. “I told them, this work wouldn’t be complete without you two,” said Lami on his choice of voice actors. “We want these works to see the light of day. We need to provide the new generations with tales of our own,” added Al-Atrash when asked why he wanted to partake in the anime.