The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made a massive breakthrough in its cinema industry as well as its cultural and entertainment landscape, as its nationally-owned cinema opened to Saudi consumers for the first time in the second week of August 2019. Out of all locations in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is selected as the location for the first branch for this cinema brand called Muvi Cinemas. Jeddah holds the title as the commercial city of Saudi Arabia and its robust economy is expected to support the establishment of this cinema theater.
Saudi’s Minister of Media, Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabana, inaugurated the opening of the movie theatre and also took the chance to watch a movie together with Saudi public on one of the available screens. The minister is proud of this fantastic achievement as the cinema signify Saudi capability of creating breakthrough and innovation. The movie theatre itself is fully operated by Saudi employees under the management of The Next Generation Company, of which the stakes are mainly controlled by the government.
The opening of cinemas has been a rising business trend in Saudi Arabia. The trend started back in 2018 when the government began to authorize the operating and opening of the movie theater in the country for the first time in 35 years. The first cinema theater to operate in Saudi opened in April of 2018 and soon followed by many other cinema businesses the following year. Saudi government intends that there will be 350 movie theaters and 2,500 screens to operate by 2030. All these movie theatres and screens are aimed to accommodate the prospected USD 1.5 billion market in 2030, which is a massive and profitable market for businesses and government to invest in.
The initiative to reform the conservative rule that bans cinema is part of the renowned Saudi Vision 2030 which seeks to diversify the national economy through the strengthening of other economic sectors, such as entertainment sector. Saudi government intends to push domestic household spending on entertainment and cultural activities within the kingdom to 6 percent level. This spending level would translate to USD 8 billion in recreational sectors. The opening of cinemas is also aligned with one of the goals of the Quality of Life Program 2020, which aims to improve Saudi individuals lifestyle.
In the past, the Saudi population tends to spend their entertainment budget by traveling to neighboring countries, such as Bahrain and the UAE. These neighboring countries offer more options for entertainment and have less strict rules if compared to Saudi Arabia, especially about the restriction of watching movies in the cinemas. With the increasing number of cinema in the kingdom, government officials expect that this reform would change and stimulate spending within the kingdom’s leisure sector.
The recent establishment of the burgeoning cinema industry in Saudi Arabia has presented opportunities which can be seized by all related industry players in the country, ranging from cinema owners, technology suppliers, as well as filmmakers. Innovations as well as great strategies to capture the market is required for these industry players to be able to dominate in the new cinema industry of Saudi Arabia.