Saudi cinema chain announces $218.6m expansion plan

Saudi cinema chain announces $218.6m expansion plan
MUVI Cinemas intends to grow to 307 screens nationwide over the next 12 months. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 April 2021

Saudi cinema chain announces $218.6m expansion plan

Saudi cinema chain announces $218.6m expansion plan
  • Despite COVID-19 restriction challenges, in January MUVI opened KSA’s first drive-in cinema

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s first home-grown cinema chain announced on Sunday a SR820 million ($218.6 million) expansion plan for 2021.

MUVI Cinemas intends to grow to 307 screens nationwide over the next 12 months, launching 23 new sites in eight key Saudi regions, adding 204 screens and 22,872 seats to its portfolio. The planned expansion will bring the brand’s total number of seats to over 35,000.

The expansion will initially see nine new sites in Riyadh, seven in Jeddah, and two each in Taif, Alkhobar, Khamis Mushait and Al-Kharj. The cities of Buraidah and Uniazah will soon welcome their first-ever MUVI locations.

CEO Sultan Alhokair said the company’s plan for 2021 “far exceeds” its original goals for the year.

“After seeing the potential opportunities across the Kingdom, and in light of the strong box office growth and market share obtained, we’re now confidently in a position to inaugurate 23 new locations — all of which will feature the world’s most cutting-edge cinema technologies,” he added.

The expansion comes after the brand reported a “successful” 2020, which saw the addition of eight new multiplexes.

The statement from MUVI also revealed plans for eight additional locations currently in their design phase, slated to open in 2023 and 2024. These future plans put the company on track to exceed 600 screens by the end of 2024.

“This is a total investment of SR2.3 billion which will generate more than 5,000 career opportunities for Saudi nationals,” it said.

MUVI’s 2021 expansion follows a strategic partnership announced in December with Telfaz11, a Riyadh-based digital-media studio that develops and produces Arabic-language content primarily for audiences in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Through the partnership, MUVI will provide its cinema platforms to Telfaz11’s local content creators. Telfaz11, in turn, will offer its creative services to MUVI as the company expands.

MUVI also forged a partnership last year with MENA film distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment, forming a new company called Front Row Arabia that will increase distribution of Western, Arabic-language and Japanese anime content across the Kingdom.

Despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, MUVI has continued to expand. In January it opened a pop-up movie theater in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first drive-in since the nationwide ban on cinemas was lifted in 2018.

With cinemas closed for much of the first half of 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the drive-in offered customers a way to enjoy movies from the comfort and safety of their own cars, with all the necessary protective measures applied.

However, the chain will have to compete with the Kingdom’s other major players in the cinema industry, which have also launched ambitious expansion plans.

In December 2020, AMC Entertainment Holdings, the world’s largest movie exhibition company, opened a sixth movie theater in Saudi Arabia as part of its plans to expand to 50 locations by 2024.

AMC is particularly important for establishing the Saudi Cinema Co., a joint venture with Saudi Entertainment Ventures, an entity set up by the Public Investment Fund to be the investment and development arm for the entertainment sector.

UAE-based chain VOX Cinemas has also added several locations to its roster, with the first-ever cinemas opening in the cities of Tabuk and Hail, in line with a plan to build 600 screens across Saudi Arabia by 2023 as part of a SR2 billion investment.


Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions increase by 1.2% in October 

RIYADH: The value of point-of-sale transactions in Saudi Arabia reached SR40.5 billion ($10.8 billion) in October, up by 1.2 percent compared to the previous month, the Saudi Central Bank reported.

Some of the sectors that helped drive the increase were restaurants and cafes, hotels, food and beverages, clothing and footwear. 

For example, sales in restaurants and cafes reached their highest level since at least January 2016.

The number of transactions rose markedly to over 495 million in October from the previous month’s 469 million transactions.

Some of the point-of-sale transactions could be conducted using mobile phones and cards, otherwise referred to as near-field communication technology.

The number of mobile phone transactions continued its expansionary trend, recording a monthly increase of 1.9 percent to hit 179 million transactions in October. Meanwhile, the number of transactions using cards was up by 8 percent to stand at 293 million transactions.

The value of transactions using mobile phones witnessed a 2.5 percent drop to SR11.5 billion in October while those performed using cards recorded an increase of 3.2 percent with the value reaching SR25.7 billion.


Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share
Updated 47 min 30 sec ago

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

Saudi Tadawul Group sets IPO offer price at SR105 per share

RIYADH: Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. on Sunday set the final offer price for its initial public offering at the top of the range i.e. SR105 per share. 

The market capitalization of the exchange stands at SR 12.6 billion as on the listing date, a statement issued by Tadawul said. 

The IPO order book was 121 times oversubscribed with the book-building process generating an order book of SR458 billion. 

The individual investor subscription period is scheduled to commence on Nov. 30 and ends on Dec. 2. 


Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending
Updated 28 November 2021

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending

Jordan’s draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 billion in state spending
  • The government foresaw total revenues next year at 8.9 billion dinars, with 848 million in foreign grants
  • It has raised capital spending to 1.5 billion dinars, a 43 percent rise from the previous year

AMMAN: Jordan’s Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ said on Sunday that the draft 2022 budget forecasts 10.6 billion dinars ($15 billion) in state expenditure and paves the way for a rebound in growth to 2.7 percent after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Ississ told a media briefing that Jordan had also last week successfully concluded the third review of a four-year program of International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed reforms to help it restore fiscal prudence for a sustained recovery.
Al-Ississ said that the government had increased its local revenues last year without raising taxes through a rare campaign to combat tax evasion and by a major restructuring of the tax and customs administration that ended exemptions.
It foresaw total revenues next year at 8.9 billion dinars, with 848 million in foreign grants.
Jordan’s economy was particularly hard hit last year by the shutdowns aimed at containing the virus, with unemployment at a record 24 percent amid the worst contraction in decades.
Inflation was, however, expected to rise to 2.5 percent next year from a projected 1.6 percent this year, Al-Ississ said.
Most state expenditure goes on salaries and pensions in a country which has among the highest government spending relative to the size of its $45 billion economy.
The government has raised capital spending to 1.5 billion dinars, a 43 percent rise from the previous year to help spur growth and improve infrastructure to help attract more investment, the finance minister said
Jordan’s commitment to IMF reforms and investor confidence in the country’s improved outlook helped it to maintain stable sovereign ratings at a time when other emerging markets were being downgraded, Al-Ississ said.
Al-Ississ said debt servicing on 29.4 billion dinars of public debt would drop next year with a push to expand preferential loans and grants away from more expensive commercial lending.


Saudi Arabia registers the new Bahri-owned oil tanker Rayah

Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia registers the new Bahri-owned oil tanker Rayah

Saudi Public Transport Authority raises the Kingdom’s flag on the new Rayah marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province. (SPA)
  • The Rayah raises the total number of oil tankers owned by Bahri to 57
  • The tanker is made by Hyundai with a tonnage of 110,706 metric tons

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s transport authority raised the Kingdom’s flag on a new marine tanker in Dammam in the Eastern Province.
The Rayah tanker, which has been registered under the Saudi flag, is one of the national carriers owned and operated by Bahri, the Saudi National Shipping Company.
It raises the total number of national ships carrying the Saudi flag to 408 ships to date, with a tonnage exceeding 100 tons, increasing the carrying capacity of the Saudi merchant marine fleet.
The Kingdom’s fleet is experiencing rapid growth, and the addition of the new tanker is an important step in supporting business growth through developing marine capabilities and expanding shipping lanes in energy supplies to global markets.

The Rayah, made by Hyundai with a tonnage of 110,706 metric tons, raises the total number of oil tankers owned by Bahri to 57, and was registered by the regulatory and legislative authority for the Kingdom’s maritime transport sector.
Saudi Arabia’s marine fleet was ranked first regionally and 21st globally in terms of tonnage, according to the annual report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development last year.
“The Public Transport Authority will continue its endeavors and exert more efforts to enhance the logistics sector and national transport, especially maritime, and contribute to consolidating the Kingdom’s leading position on the map of shipping and global marine supply chains,” the body said in a statement.


OPEC+ delays technical meetings to review market conditions

OPEC+ delays technical meetings to review market conditions
Updated 28 November 2021

OPEC+ delays technical meetings to review market conditions

OPEC+ delays technical meetings to review market conditions

RIYADH: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a grouping known as OPEC+, is moving two technical meetings to later this week after oil’s rout last Friday, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.

The move seeks to allow its committees more time to evaluate the impact of a new strain of the coronavirus.

A joint technical committee meeting will now be held on Wednesday, instead of the planned date Monday, according to delegates from some member countries. 

The joint ministerial monitoring committee, which comprises representatives of the broader group, will meet on Thursday instead of on Tuesday.

The OPEC and broader OPEC+ meetings will go ahead as planned on Wednesday and Thursday with ministers set to decide on whether to go ahead with planned output increases.

The delay will allow time for the group to analyze the market after a more than 10 percent drop in prices on Friday after the emergence of new coronavirus variant spooked traders. 

OPEC will also weigh the potential impact of a planned release of strategic petroleum reserves by the US and other oil consuming nations.