In 2017, Saudi Arabia announced that public cinemas would be able to operate almost four decades since the ban was put into place. Less than two years later, a Kingdom that was once devoid of public theatres saw the all-day, all-night opening of cinemas during Eid celebrations earlier this month. In this new environment, Cinépolis, reported by Saudi Gazette to be the largest cinema exhibitor in Latin America and fourth largest exhibition circuit in the world, has announced the locations of six new movie theaters in the Kingdom.
The six cinemas will be built over the next two years, with the first one opening in Lulu Mall, in Dammam, by the end of this year. Four cinemas are then scheduled for completion by 2020 and the sixth for 2021. According to the news site, a spokesperson from Cinépolis Gulf explained that Cinépolis’ launch into Saudi Arabia’s entertainment market is a key milestone in the company’s expansion strategy over the next five years, and that it aims to provide movie-goers with unrivalled experiences in a period of transformation for the Kingdom that has been made possible by Vision 2030.
The opening of cinemas is part of the country’s larger vision, which is focused on encouraging a vibrant society that includes a rejuvenated entertainment sector, opening up the country, diversifying its economy, and transforming Saudi Arabia into a business and tourism destination. Indeed, the Kingdom has been investing in creating entertainment options at home as they are seen as catalysts for economic growth and diversification. By developing the broader cultural sector, Saudi Arabia aims to create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the country’s entertainment options.
In terms of figures, the country’s Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% currently to 6% by 2030. Lifting the cinema ban will open up a domestic market of over 32 million people, with over 300 cinemas and over 2,000 screens anticipated to open across the Kingdom by 2030.