As Saudi Arabia formally ended a 35-year long ban on cinemas, a third cinema operator has announced plans to set up shop in the Kingdom.
Al Rashed Empire Cinema Consortium received a license to operate cinemas in one of the Gulf’s largest economies. Other cinema operators in the Kingdom include U.S. headquartered AMC Theaters and U.A.E.-based Majid Al Futtaim’s Vox Cinemas.
According to the agreement, the operator will open 30 new theaters in various cities across Saudi Arabia. The reopening of cinemas in the oil-rich Gulf country comes as part of the its cultural and economic diversification that majorly focuses on reducing its dependence on oil.
Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of PIF plans to invest $2.7 billion (SAR10 billion) by 2030, in a move to boost the entertainment industry in the country that hosted its first-ever Arab Fashion Week in April 2018.
Cinema operators have flocked to Saudi upon the lifting of the ban, hoping to cash in on the massive consumer market. Earlier this year, AMC Theatres partnered with Public Investment Fund (PIF) to open 30 to 40 cinemas in 15 cities in the next five years and 50 to 100 cinemas in total in about 25 cities by 2030.
Dubai-based VOX Cinemas too has agreed to invest over $540 million (SAR 2 billion) to open 600 screens in the next five years in Saudi Arabia. Seoul headquartered CJ 4DPLEX inked a deal with Middle East-based cinema operator Cinemacity to open three 4DX cinema locations in Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital city and other Saudi cities by the end of this year.
With increasing investments in the entertainment market, Saudi is aiming to generate revenues from household spending that mostly comes from its youth that constitutes 70% of the overall population.