US firm AMC to operate cinemas in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information on Wednesday said it has given U.S.-based firm — AMC —, the first licence to operate cinemas in the kingdom.

AMC is controlled by China’s Dalian Wanda group, the world’s biggest private property developer and owner of the world’s largest cinema chain, Wanda Cinemas and the Hoyts Group. The group is based in Beijing.

Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad Alawwad, said in a statement that AMC planned to open Saudi Arabia’s first cinema theatre in the capital Riyadh on April 18.

He added that “the granting of the first licence marked the opening of very significant opportunities for exhibitors.”

Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad Alawwad, said in a statement that AMC planned to open Saudi Arabia’s first cinema theatre in the capital Riyadh on April 18.

He added that “the granting of the first licence marked the opening of very significant opportunities for exhibitors.”

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Alawwad added that the Saudi market was large, with majority of the population under the age of 30 and eager to watch their favourite films at home.

In December, Saudi authorities announced the re-opening of cinemas in the country, lifting a 35-year-old ban.

The move was part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, launched by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in a bid to open up the country for investors and to diversify the kingdom’s economy.

According to the culture minister’s statement, Saudi Arabia expects to have nearly 350 cinemas, with over 2,500 screens by 2030.

The 32-year-old crown prince was believed to be behind the lifting of ban on women driving in the kingdom, a move that would go into effect in June.

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