The Ministry of Culture and Information says it will begin licensing cinemas immediately
First multiplexes are expected to open in March 2018; by 2030 there will be over 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens across the Kingdom
“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom” – Minister of Culture and Information
RIYADH, December 11 (CIC) – The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) announced in an official statement on Monday that commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.
The Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), Chaired by the Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution today allowing GCAM to grant licenses to cinemas, including commercial providers.
Dr. Alawwad said: “As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom. We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”
The measure comes as part of the Vision 2030 social and economic reform programme under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The decision to license cinemas is central to the government’s programme to encourage an open and rich domestic culture for Saudis. The move follows a variety of economic and social reforms including the announcement in a September Royal Decree by King Salman that women would be allowed to drive as of June 2018.
This is the first time that cinemas have been licensed since their ban in the early 1980s.
“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” Dr Alawwad said in the statement.
“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”
The opening of cinemas complements two key pillars of the Vision 2030 programme: encouraging a vibrant society, including a rejuvenated entertainment sector; and nurturing a thriving economy that creates opportunities for all the people in the Kingdom.
Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% currently to 6% by 2030. The move opens up a domestic market of over 32 million people. It is anticipated that by 2030 the Kingdom will have opened over 300 cinemas, with over 2,000 screens.
International and regional music stars have already started flocking to Saudi Arabia, performing concerts that were once unimaginable but which are increasingly becoming common, thanks to the Vision that seeks to open up the country, diversify the economy and make the Kingdom a global destination for business and tourism.
The cinema industry will have an economic impact that will increase the size of the media market, stimulate economic growth and diversification by contributing more than 90 billion riyals (USD $23.99 billion) to GDP, creating more than 30,000 permanent jobs and more than 130,000 temporary jobs by 2030.
GCAM will announce more details on licencing and regulations over the next few weeks.