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Only VIPs to attend as Saudi Arabia launches first new cinema

Only VIPs to attend as Saudi Arabia launches first new cinema

The U.S. -based AMC was granted the first license to operate a cinema in Saudi Arabia in a deal signed earlier this month in California with the crown prince.

The Saudi government projects that the opening of movie theatres will contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030.

On April 18, 2018, at about 9 pm in Riyadh, around 600 guests will sit down in a refitted conference hall in the King Abdullah Financial District as the big screens showcase the major cultural landmark, the Marvel superhero blockbuster - Black Panther.

"It will be the first in a series of test screenings, attended by industry specialists, that will be held... to support final preparations for the opening of the cinema to the wider public", the information ministry's Center for International Communication said.

A further three screens are expected to open at the AMC cinema in the coming months and will show a range of Hollywood films. The goal over the coming years is to reduce Saudi's economic reliance on oil.

The company is planning to open up to 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and a total of 50-100 cinemas in approximately 25 Saudi cities by 2030. "Hollywood has been showing movies in the Middle East for a long time [and] has proven that it can be sensitive to the local cultures here and in the region". Cinema has always played an important role in bringing cultures together and Saudi Arabia is ready to play its part.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced earlier this month that the wholly-owned Development and Investment Entertainment Company has signed an agreement with United States giant AMC Entertainment to manage its cinemas in Saudi Arabia. It said it expects the first venue to open later this year.

Mr Aron added: "And when we welcome the public to our theatre we know that we will find a ready audience of sophisticated, passionate cinema fans".

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants".

"Saudi policies are failing both domestically and overseas, especially in Lebanon", the Jordanian envoy said, informing his government after meeting his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi, according to a document released on September 28, 2017.

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