After ending a historic 35-year ban on cinemas, Saudi Arabia is now launching yet another initiative to become one of the cultural and entertainment hubs in the region.
The country’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) has launched a $35 billion (SAR130 billion) quality of life program 2020, primarily focusing on culture and leisure as part of the country’s Vision 2030.
American actress Katie Holmes and British actor-cum-director Idris Elba were joined by several citizens in an event organized to kick-start the initiative. In Saudi Arabia, which is shifting its years-long dependence from oil and focusing on cultural and economic reforms, this initiative is expected to increase non-oil GDP in related sectors by 20%.
Upon implementation of the quality of life program the Kingdom aims to create more than 346,000 jobs and generate $513 million (SAR1.9 billion) worth of non-oil revenues. In the entertainment sector too, the country expects to invest significantly as it plans to open a water park, three theme parks and 16 family entertainment centers.
The Kingdom also expects to develop an island for arts and culture in Jeddah which will be home to 45 cinemas, 16 theaters, 42 libraries and the Royal Arts Complex in Riyadh by 2020.
The country opened its first movie-theater that is operated by American cinema-giant AMC Theatres last month. Following closely, U.A.E.-based Majid Al Futtaim also launched the Kingdom’s first VOX Cinemas with four screens in the country.
Cashing on the demand for entertainment in Saudi Arabia, Seoul-headquartered CJ 4DPLEX too signed a deal with Middle East-based cinema operator Cinemacity to open three 4DX cinema locations in Riyadh.