US$3.54 billion investment to boost the Gulf’s film industry as MENA Cinema Forum highlights massive opportunities

Tuesday 18 September 2018
Dubai - MENA Herald:

More than US$3.54 billion investment in cinema screens across the Gulf is expected to help the region’s cinema industry expand manifold following Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open up the sector 35 years after cinemas were banned in the Kingdom.

The Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), intends to invest up to $2.7 billion (SR10 billion) in entertainment projects across Saudi Arabia by 2030.

Dubai-based developer Majid Al Futtaim market leader in retail projects, shopping malls, operator of Carrefour hypermarket chain in the Middle East and owner of VOX Cinemas, stated it will invest US$540 million (Dh2 billion) in 600 screens across Saudi Arabia, after making an announcement of US$300 million in other GCC markets.

The expansion of the region’s box offices and the industry’s evolution provides massive opportunities as well as comes with challenges – many of which will be addressed at a two-day MENA Cinema Forum – the first ever business conference to the regional market will to be held at the Grand Hyatt from October 28-29.

More than 45 speakers will discuss cinema-related issues – challenges and opportunities – in front of an audience of 450 industry professionals, businessmen, 60 sponsors and delegates from 30 countries across the world.

Some of the key topics tackled include the transition through digital disruption and the economic impact of the growing cinema industry as well as the effect of the Saudi Cinema market across the region.

“The cinema industry in the Middle East is entering an exciting phase with the opening up of the Saudi market after 35 years and MENA Cinema Forum will bring the developments under a series of focussed discussions in two days,” Leila Masinaei, Managing Director of GM Events, organiser of the MENA Cinema Forum, says.

“Saudi Government anticipates 300 cinemas will open by 2030, contributing $24 billion to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs. Since the closure of the theatres in Saudi Arabia 35 years ago, the entire region has undergone a cultural shift with the penetration of digital technology which has impacted the entertainment industry.”

Valued at US$26.4 billion in 2016, the Middle East Cinema market’s forecasted growth at 7.4 percent amounting to over $35 billion, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) presents an unprecedented business opportunity for global brands keen to penetrate a lucrative market.

MENA Cinema Forum, the only dedicated industry conference on cinema, will screen premiers for VIPs and delegates at exclusive screenings during the two-day conference that will also feature some of the biggest names in the global film industry.

“The whole event will become a festive place with lots of networking events and cinema screenings while we anticipate a number of celebrity appearances to complement the business conference on the cinema industry,” Leila Masinaei says.

The eventful conference will be full of activities including workshops, break-out meetings, site visits and major announcements.

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