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.


It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

Updated 04 April 2020

It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

  • Saudi foreign and energy ministers say Moscow's claim that Kingdom withdrew from the OPEC+ deal was unfounded
  • They said it was Russia that abandoned the agreement, leading to a collapse in world oil prices

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign and energy ministers on Saturday denied Russia's claim that the Kingdom abandoned the OPEC+ deal, leading to a collapse in world oil prices.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said "a statement attributed to one of the media of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation claimed that one of the reasons for the decline in oil prices was the Kingdom's withdrawal from the deal of OPEC + and that the Kingdom was planning to get rid of shale oil producers."

"The minister affirmed that what was mentioned is fully devoid of truth and that the withdrawal of the Kingdom from the agreement is not correct," the statement said.

In fact Saudi Arabia and 22 other countries tried to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the deal, but Russia did not agree, it said.

Prince Farhan expressed surprise that Russia had to resort to "falsifying facts" when Saudi Arabia's stance on shale oil production is known, the statement said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the main investors in the energy sector in United States, implying that there is no reason for the Kingdom "to get rid of shale oil producers" as Russia has claimed.

He further said the Kingdom "is also seeking to reach more cuts and achieve oil market equilibrium for the interest of shale oil producers."

OPEC+ refers to the cooperation between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers. The cooperation deal which called for cuts in production by the producers was meant to stabilize oil prices. 

In a separate statement, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman rejected Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s similar claim that the Kingdom refused to extend the OPEC+ deal and withdrew from it.

Novak "was the first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments starting from the first of April," Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement.

He said Novak's statement led other countries to decide "to raise their production to offset the lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns." 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia called for an urgent meeting of oil exporters after US President Donald Trump said he expected the Kingdom and Russia to cut production by 10-15 million barrels per day.

Prince Farhan said he was "hoping that Russia would take the right decisions in the urgent meeting" so that a "fair agreement that restores the desired balance of oil markets" could be achieved.

The global oil market has crashed, with prices falling to $34 a barrel from $65 at the beginning of the year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fuel demand has dropped by roughly a third, or 30 million barrels per day, as billions of people worldwide restrict their movements.

A global deal to reduce production by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels per day would require participation from nations that do not exert state control over output, including the United States, now the world’s largest producer of crude.

A meeting of OPEC and allies such as Russia has been scheduled for April 6, but details were thin on the exact distribution of production cuts. No time has yet been set for the meeting, OPEC sources said.