Saudi Arabia said today that public cinemas would be allowed in the conservative kingdom for the first time in over 35 years, and that the first ones were likely to open next March.
The statement from Majid Al Futtaim Group issued to the media said “Majid Al Futtaim and VOX Cinemas congratulates the Government of Saudi Arabia following its decision to reintroduce cinema to the Kingdom. In line with the spirit of Vision 2030, today’s announcement will mean the creation of thousands of job opportunities and support the growth of creative industries across the country. These are exciting times and will work with the Kingdom to extend the footprint of our VOX Cinemas brand to Saudi Arabia in the months ahead. Majid Al Futtaim has a considerable and expanding presence in Saudi Arabia with more than SAR14 billion invested in current and announced projects across retail, leisure and fashion, creating more than 114,000 direct and indirect job opportunities. We look forward to building on this collaboration in support of Saudi Arabia’s domestic economic goals while providing great moments for everyone, every day”.
Cinemas were banned in the early 1980s but under reforms led by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the government is easing many of those restrictions
Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad was quoted as saying “Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification. By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”
Saudi Arabia is expected to open over 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030.
VOX Cinemas, as the Middle East’s largest cinema operator, jumped into the fray and congratulated the Saudi Government on its historic decision to reintroduce cinemas, we quote “We have observed the emergence of creative industries across the Kingdom with great enthusiasm as part of the Vision 2030 agenda and we look forward to working with the Government to introduce VOX Cinemas world class offering to Saudi Arabia in the months and years ahead. Today’s announcement will mean the creation of thousands of job opportunities for Saudi Nationals through the creation of another new leisure industry in Saudi Arabia and we look forward to playing an active role”.
A commission chaired by Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad will announce details of licensing and regulations over the next few weeks.