UAE-based Emaar Entertainment has entered into a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s GOSI Investment Ventures to expand its Reel Cinemas chain into the Kingdom, with a joint-company statement explaining: “The partnership plans an aggressive expansion into the Kingdom’s entertainment market, which means reaching cinema fans no matter where they are in Saudi Arabia.”
It is envisaged that within the next five years, audiences can look forward to 20 new venues, which will include both cinemas and family entertainment centres. The partners propose to invest approximately SR1 billion in launching Reel Cinemas in Saudi Arabia, with the first outlet planned for in Riyadh in December.
The announcement comes just days after the third anniversary of the reopening of cinemas in the Kingdom. The first cinema was opened in Riyadh on 18 April 2018, and the most recent opened last week in Hail with 10 screens and 1,309 seats.
Over the past three years, 34 cinemas have opened in 12 Saudi cities. Eleven companies have opened 342 screens with in excess of 35,000 seats, with another 70 cinema outlets expected to open in the short term.
In the region of 12 million cinema tickets were sold in those three years, and the sector has created around 2,500 direct jobs.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s first home-grown cinema chain, MUVI Cinemas, announced an SR820 million expansion plan. It intends to expand to 307 screens nationwide over the next 12 months, launching 23 new sites and adding 204 screens. The expansion will initially see nine new sites in Riyadh, seven in Jeddah, and two each in Taif, Alkhobar, Khamis Mushait and Al-Kharj. Buraidah and Uniazah will soon welcome their first-ever MUVI locations.
MUVI CEO Sultan Alhokair said the company’s plan for 2021 “far exceeds” its original goals for the year. “After seeing the potential opportunities across the Kingdom, and in light of the strong box office growth and market share obtained, we’re now confidently in a position to inaugurate 23 new locations – all of which will feature the world’s most cutting-edge cinema technologies.”