More than $3.54 billion of investments in cinema screens across the Gulf is expected to help the region’s cinema industry expand manifold following Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open up the sector 35 years after film cinemas were banned in the Kingdom.
The Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), intends to invest up to $2.7 billion in entertainment projects across Saudi Arabia by 2030.
Dubai-based developer Majid Al Futtaim market leader in retail projects, shopping malls, operator of Carrefour hypermarket chain in the Middle East and owner of VOX Cinemas, stated it will invest $540 million in 600 screens across Saudi Arabia, after making an announcement of $300 million in other GCC markets.
The expansion of the region’s box offices and the industry’s evolution provides massive opportunities as well as comes with challenges.
Some of the key topics that will need to be tackled include the transition through digital disruption and the economic impact of the growing cinema industry as well as the effect of the Saudi Cinema market across the region.
“Saudi Government anticipates 300 cinemas will open by 2030, contributing $24 billion to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs," said Leila Masinaei, Managing Director of GM Events, organiser of the MENA Cinema Forum, "Since the closure of the theatres in Saudi Arabia 35 years ago, the entire region has undergone a cultural shift with the penetration of digital technology which has impacted the entertainment industry.”
Valued at $26.4 billion in 2016, the Middle East cinema market is forecasted to grow at 7.4% amounting to over $35 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), presenting an unprecedented business opportunity for global brands keen to penetrate a lucrative market.