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2,500 SCREENS BY 2030

Saudi Arabia approves key regulations for cinemas

RIYADH, March 3, 2018

Saudi Arabia has approved licensing regulations for cinemas, opening the door for companies to apply and start operating in the kingdom as the country eases social restrictions.
The General Commission for Audiovisual Media, which regulates the sector, said in a statement on Thursday that it anticipates more than 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens will open by 2030, reported Financial Times.
Riyadh announced in December last year that it would end a 35-year ban on cinemas in the conservative kingdom as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform agenda which hopes to grow sectors like entertainment, arts and culture to help diversify the oil-dependent Saudi economy.
Awwad Alawwad, the culture and information minister, said the government envisaged Saudi families doubling their spending on cultural and recreational activities from 2.9 per cent to 6 per cent of their income by 2030 as a result of the reforms.
“The restoration of cinema will be an important lever to reach this goal, stimulating economic growth and diversification, creating more jobs and enriching the entertainment options here in Saudi Arabia, the largest such market in the region,” stated Alawwad.
The announcement that cinemas will return to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the 1980s has already sparked interest from international and regional cinema operators.
US-based AMC Entertainment, one of the world’s largest providers and operators of movie theatres, has signed a provisional agreement with the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, said the report.
British operator Vue International said last month that it plans to build up to 30 multiplexes in Saudi Arabia in partnership with Abdulmohsin Al Hokair Holding, a Saudi real estate group.
Similar announcements were also made by companies from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates as they bet on their experience in catering to Saudi film-goers, who for years travelled to neighbouring Gulf states to watch Hollywood movies.
"The introduction of cinemas in the Kingdom, Al-Awwad said, represented a “pivotal turning point toward building a cultural economy, reviving the cultural scene in the Kingdom.”
Officials in the kingdom had studied best practices for regulations in the governing of cinemas in a number of countries, said the report.
Included in the regulations are three types of license allowing the establishing cinemas, operation of the facility, and a license permitting both fixed and temporary cinemas, it added.

Tags: Saudi Arabia | Regulations | cinemas |

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