Cinema growth to boost Saudi Arabia entertainment sector

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A visitor inquiring about products at Cinema Build KSA 2020 exhibition in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Yazeed Alsamrani)
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Visitors at Cinema Build KSA 2020 exhibition in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Yazeed Alsamrani)
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Opening Panel Discussion of Cinema Build KSA 2020 in progress in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Yazeed Alsamrani)
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Opening Panel Discussion of Cinema Build KSA 2020 in progress in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Yazeed Alsamrani)
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Participants at Cinema Build KSA 2020 in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Participants at Cinema Build KSA 2020 in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 February 2020

Cinema growth to boost Saudi Arabia entertainment sector

  • More than 3.8 million visits to Kingdom’s cinemas in 2019, Cinema Build KSA 2020 forum told

RIYADH: Developing the cinema sector in Saudi Arabia will enhance the quality of life of individuals and families, the opening day of the Cinema Build KSA 2020 forum in Riyadh heard on Wednesday.

The two-day forum is being organized by the Eyes of Cities in association with the Great Minds Group and supported by the Quality of Life Program as one of the Saudi Vision 2030 realization initiatives.

The Quality of Life Vision Realization Program aims to improve individuals’ lifestyles by developing an ecosystem to support and create new options that boost participation in cultural, environment and sports activities.

The second edition of the forum will shed light on topics related to building cinematic projects in the Kingdom while keeping pace with international cinema standards.

The opening panel discussion focused on laying a foundation for sustainable growth to achieve the Vision 2030 cinema goals, exploring the groundwork needed to achieve both short-term and long-term goals as well as the lessons learned from the first few completed cinema projects in the Kingdom.

Speaking to Arab News, John Iozzi, CEO and managing director of AMC Cinemas-KSA and a panelist in the opening discussion, said: “We are very strong believers in Vision 2030, we think it is a fantastic look at the future and where the Kingdom is heading. We are proud to be part of the journey and continue to be an interested and very invested stakeholder in its progress.”

He said: “The future of cinema in the Kingdom is very bright. We have a population that responded very well to the early days of cinema emerging in the economy and the attendance has been very strong.”

He said AMC is committed to having 20 cinemas by this time next year. “That’s our target now.”

Another panelist, John Sullivan, director at Light Cinemas, UK, said: “It is an exciting time for Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom will become a major force in cinema and will help the region to develop through Arabic cinema.”

He said that Light Cinemas has partnered with Next Generation a part of the Al-Hokair Group and formed Movie Cinemas, the first Saudi cinema brand.

Commenting on the forum, the spokesperson for the Quality of Life Program, Mazroa Al-Mazroo, said that the cinema sector is one of the most promising areas in the Kingdom, both in terms of the size of the industry and its economic, cultural and social impact.

“Since the inauguration of the cinema sector ... nine licenses were issued to operate cinemas and 14 cinemas were opened in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Khobar and Jizan. This has created hundreds of jobs and allowed millions of citizens and residents to enjoy watching premieres of their favorite movies at the same time as the rest of the world,” he said.

He added: “The launch of the cinema sector is a remarkable success story in our program. The Kingdom achieved first place in ticket sales in the Middle East last January, where movies from 22 countries were shown and rated in the Kingdom. In addition to that 12 of these movies were shown in the Kingdom before the US.

“Moreover, 2020 goals were achieved in terms of the number of visits, as we exceeded 3.8 million targeted visits to cinemas in 2019,” he said. “New cinemas are set to open in Jubail, Taif, Al-Ahsa, Dhahran, Hail and other cities in the Kingdom this year.”

Other sessions at the forum covered topics including architectural and technical considerations for building futuristic cinemas.

Over the two-day forum industry leaders and experts will exchange opinions and provide solutions for challenges in delivering projects for numerous developers.

The first day ended with a closing speech by the conference chairman Paul Schwarz, technical director, Dubai Acoustic Research Laboratory.


Saudi woman runs a seamless op to meet military demands

In the future, Al-Mutairi aims to build partnerships with global companies to develop the field. (Supplied)
Updated 19 September 2020

Saudi woman runs a seamless op to meet military demands

  • Turfah Al-Mutairi’s factory creates cutting-edge uniforms, and she hopes to expand beyond the Kingdom

RIYADH: Turfah bint Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi is the first Saudi woman to obtain a license from the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) for a military outfit factory.

The owner of Sondos Al-Dibaj factory, Al-Mutairi has a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering and started working in the field after graduating. She is now specialized in military equipment, including clothing that can protect against weapons of mass destruction and biological weapons, as well as fire-resistant clothing.
“My company is among the first five companies to get licensed in the field of military industries by GAMI,” Al-Mutairi told Arab News.
She said her factory works with international companies specialized in localizing production of military equipment.
These include a French company with which she has signed an agreement as a Saudi-French investment specializing in military uniforms. The clothing is designed to meet the needs of the Saudi military in the field.
“I started my career in design and textile as this was my major. Fashion and design depend on the concept more than on quantity,” she said. “There are industries, however, that depend on quantity, and this is found in the military sectors.”
She said her approach to working for the military sector was founded on two beliefs. The first is that, being a strategic sector, and from a security and political point of view, the industry should be local and domestic, and localizing it leads to self-sufficiency, Al-Mutairi said.
“The second reason is that my goal since graduation has been to be part of a cycle that seeks to create jobs for women. Textiles is one of the businesses in which women innovate, and opening production lines for this field has been my goal for over 20 years,” she added.
She has worked on the project since the establishment of her first factory 12 years ago, and she was among the first to demand the domestic production of military clothing.

Turfah bint Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi

The idea of localizing military industries had yet to be discussed when she first started her factory. Many of Al-Mutairi’s relatives work in the military field, which made her aware of the needs of the industry.

FASTFACTS

• The owner of Sondos Al-Dibaj factory, Al-Mutairi has a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering and started working in the field after graduating.

• She is specialized in military equipment, including clothing that can protect against WMDs, biological weapons, as well as fire-resistant clothing.

“I rang the bell at the AFED-2016 exhibition, which targeted the field of spare parts, not individual equipment. I spoke to Maj. Gen. Attia Al-Malki, head of the exhibition, and he was very understanding of my idea, so I took part in the exhibition,” she said, adding: “Here comes the importance of having an official who understands the requirements of the stage and has the flexibility that enables him to make a decision.”
The exhibition also gave Al-Mutairi the opportunity to work with international companies such as BAE Systems, which specializes in aircraft production. “I discussed with them their needs, and we began to fulfill their special requirements and supply them with spare parts for military aircraft, such as engine covers, and we have started to develop our capabilities to cover their delicate product requirements,” she added.
Al-Mutairi said that spare parts are also a type of textile with unique specifications, which can demonstrate the ability of manufacturers.
“Experience begins with a small part and extends to include other parts. We have thankfully passed the stages of installation and reached the stages of creativity and innovation,” she said. For centuries, Al-Mutairi said, fabric and textile production has been women’s work, adding that military uniforms have special requirements that must help soldiers navigate in the field and surrounding terrain.
“We therefore take into account the military requirements in terms of design and material, and this is what we are trying to develop. We had experience in designing the uniforms for the staff of the National Center for Security Operations (911). Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman Al-Saleh, the center’s director, supported us, and the uniform was approved by the Ministry of Interior,” she said.
Her factory also took part in designing Public Security uniform. Al-Mutairi said there are some similarities between the military uniforms of Saudi armed forces and those of other countries. The most common uniform is the No. 4 camouflage, which is worn during deployment.
“They are meant to look like the surrounding area, whether it is a desert or a mountain. These are thought-out patterns, and developments are continuously made by following the latest technologies in textile engineering and color combinations,” she said. “The process of changing them takes a long time and requires decisions by the military sector.” With the comprehensive change in the Saudi economy, cutting-edge systems are encouraging investment, especially in the military industry, she said.
The country goal to localize 50 percent of the military industry. Regulations by GAMI, new systems, and employing purchasing and negotiating powers will help manufacturers achieve the ambitious target, she said.
She added that military technology has valued customers, and it is guaranteed that the products will be bought if they are of high quality.
Al-Mutairi said it is an excellent investment opportunity for Saudis and foreign investors in particular, given that the Kingdom ranks fourth globally in military expenditure, “and you can imagine that 50 percent of this huge spending goes to local factories.”
She said that despite strong competition locally, her factory alone cannot cover market demands, and that the Kingdom needs more competition in the military sector.
“It also needs to localize, train and financially support talent, in addition to developing systems, such as a procurement system. We have also seen recent reforms such as arbitration in corporate cases, and this has become clear and fast, which encourages investment,” she added.
Al-Mutairi said another step that made things easier for industry investment was the development in completing government transactions, which have moved online. “These procedures in the Kingdom only take a few minutes and the response is received electronically.”
In the future, Al-Mutairi aims to build partnerships with international companies to develop the field, quoting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said: “The sky is the limit.”
She has had meetings with Chinese and Greek industrial companies, and said she will work with any company that wishes to enter the Saudi market.
While the military industry always relies on patents, Al-Mutairi said it is an advanced stage in the field, and her factory is working toward that goal and focusing on it. But patents only come after mastering a skill, establishing work and starting it, she added.
Military uniforms resistant to weapons of mass destruction are unique to Al-Mutairi’s factory, as it is the only one in the Kingdom and the Gulf region to produce the clothing.
She added that the Sondos Paul Boye Company — a Saudi-French partnership — is the only company in the world to produce the uniform in two internationally known methods. “The first of which is using cellular textile, produced globally by one company, while the second uses spherical textile, produced by another specialized company.” Sondos Paul Boye also manufactures fire-resistant uniforms.
Al-Mutairi said her company is also looking to export uniforms soon.
She employs 170 workers in her factory, while there will be 213 new employees as part of a new expansion.
Many of the workers are women, she added, “because Saudi women by all means have taken over the foreign workers’ department as they complete their work very quickly and demand more tasks.”
This, she said, has added pressure on other workers to keep up with the speed and achievements of the 49 Saudi women working on the factory production line.