Cinema investment in Saudi Arabia set to hit SR5bn in 2020

Saudi cinema-goers at a VOX movie theater in Riyadh Park Mall. (AFP)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Cinema investment in Saudi Arabia set to hit SR5bn in 2020

  • Saudi conference study reveals 140 cinemas planned for Kingdom creating estimated 5,300 jobs
  • One of the main goals of the Vision 2030 reform plan was to increase household spending on domestic entertainment from 2.9 percent to 6 percent of total expenditure

JEDDAH: Investment in building new cinemas in Saudi Arabia was expected to top SR5 billion ($1.33 billion) during 2020, according to latest figures.

Data published ahead of the Cinema Build KSA 2020 conference, taking place at the Fairmont hotel in Riyadh on Feb. 19 to 20, revealed that 140 movie theaters were planned to open in 30 malls throughout the Kingdom, creating more than 5,300 job opportunities.

The Saudi cinema industry would see enormous growth and was set to become the leader in the region having already gained attention from stakeholders around the globe, research from conference partner Great Minds Group predicted.

With a total of 1,323 screens planned for the country, demand for materials and resources to build cinemas has increased dramatically.

The Cinema Build KSA report revealed that an estimated 158,760 cinema seats and more than 5,953,500 square feet of carpet would be required to realize this year’s growth plans, in addition to more than 18,852,750 square feet of gypsum boards, wall panels, and specialist ceiling materials and 1,250 air-handling units.

One of the main goals of the Vision 2030 reform plan was to increase household spending on domestic entertainment from 2.9 percent to 6 percent of total expenditure, considering that Saudi nationals spent about $30 billion annually on tourism and entertainment outside the Kingdom.

Supporting and enhancing the fast-growing cinema sector would not only recover Saudi investments abroad but would also create more than 5,314 job opportunities in 2020 in the Saudi market, according to the Cinema Build KSA report.

Saudi economist, Talaat Hafez, told Arab News: “People here, whether Saudi or expat, are hungry for the Kingdom’s entertainment industry to develop and prove that it can compete not only with its neighbors and GCC countries but with the West, and internationally. 

“The entertainment industry has shown significant growth in no time at all, along with other sectors such as tourism, information technology, cybersecurity, and logistics.”

The Saudi cinema industry was predicted to see enormous growth and being the largest gathering of cinema stakeholders in the Kingdom, Cinema Build KSA 2020 aims to serve as a learning center for building world-class film theaters.

The event is organized by Eyes of Cities in association with the Great Minds Group. Boasting more than 300 attendees, at least 30 sponsors and exhibitors, and 25 international speakers, the second annual conference will cover a broader aspect of the burgeoning cinema industry in the Kingdom.


World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”