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.


US ambassador to Saudi Arabia advises American community to shelter in the Kingdom during coronavirus

Updated 03 April 2020

US ambassador to Saudi Arabia advises American community to shelter in the Kingdom during coronavirus

  • John Abizaid published video message addressed to the American community
  • He says food supplies, health care and emergency services are all good in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The US ambassador to Riyadh advised the American community in Saudi Arabia to “shelter in place,” instead of returning to the US amid the present crisis.

“Food supply is good, emergency services are sound, medical system is functioning,” said the US envoy John Abizaid on a video message addressed towards the American community.

He advised those who are adamant on returning to research and study the local situation as communities have been disrupted and many quarantine areas have sprung up.

 

 

“It’s very concerning to see how things are going there (in the US), but on the other hand I’ve got great confidence in our ability to weather the storm, not only there but here.”

He hailed the efforts made by the Kingdom to protect against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and said: “They took action early, they stopped the movement of people into the Kingdom, they shut down the air corridors, land corridors, you name it. Of course it makes us all feel isolated, but on the other hand it is also clear to me that it makes us safer.”

Abizaid described the Kingdom’s preventive measures as “ahead of the problem,” but that did not mean the situation could not spiral for the worst.

“There are about over 1,500 cases in the Kingdom right now and it is continuing to rise, but not at a rate like we’ve seen in the States or Italy or Spain or elsewhere.”

The ambassador and everyone at the embassy are social-distancing and working electronically. He said that none of the embassy staff had COVID-19.

He has reassured Americans that the embassy has a Center For Disease Control representative who has been talking to Saudis and the health ministry, saying that the Kingdom is doing a good job.

“My relationship with the Saudi security services has been exceptional,” he said, adding: “Good cooperation, we all have the same goal in mind, which is to keep the virus from spreading, to ensure that our medical professionals in the Kingdom can practice without being overcrowded or overworked.”