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|16 October, 2018

MENA region to see 500 new cinemas soon

New research shows that cinema screens will increase by 38.4% in the coming three to five years

Image used for illustrative purpose. People watch a movie at a cinema in Wanda Group's Oriental Movie Metropolis ahead of its opening, in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 27, 2018.

Image used for illustrative purpose. People watch a movie at a cinema in Wanda Group's Oriental Movie Metropolis ahead of its opening, in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 27, 2018.

REUTERS/Aly Song

Mubasher: The cinema industry has been gaining major traction lately in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, particularly with the rising entertainment sector in the once-closed-up Saudi Arabia.

New research shows that cinema screens will increase by 38.4% in the coming three to five years, to around 1,800 screens versus 1,300 currently.

Most of these new screens will be built in Saudi Arabia, PriceWaterhouseCooper’s (PWC) said in its report.

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“The biggest opportunities will come from the opening of the Saudi market, followed by the opportunity from sophisticated pricing mechanisms where cinema operators offer price differentiations based on particular timings and days – to help increase box office revenues,” said PwC partner and global deals real estate leader Berlin.

Meanwhile, GM Events managing director Leila Masinaei noted that the latest reforms and investments in the kingdom’s recreation industry, led by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have contributed to creating a large number of job opportunities, forecasting further growth in the sector.

“The 38.4% additional cinema screens will help the entertainment market to grow faster as additional capacities will be high enough to meet the growing demand that is expected to come from Saudi Arabian market,” Masinaei added.

Combined, there are currently 118 cinema screens in Bahrain and the UAE, with Novo Cinemas set to open several more in the next three years in the two countries as well as in Saudi Arabia, according to Novo Cinemas CEO Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen.

On the same line, Knauf managing director for the Middle East and India Amir bin Ahmed noted that his company’s “strategically placed manufacturing plant and research and development” in the UAE makes it a “logical choice” for Saudi customers.

More talks of these potential expansion plans in the cinema sector across most of Arab region are set to take place during the two-day MENA Cinema Forum, which will run on 28 and 29 October at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The MENA Cinema Forum, organised by GM events, is the first and only conference on the cinema sector.

In September, Saudi-based and listed Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co inked a deal with the UAE’s Majid Al-Futtaim Group to establish a VOX Cinemas multiplex in Saudi Arabia, though no time frame was revealed.

Similarly in July, Majid Al Futtaim said that it will inaugurate its second multiplex in the Kingdom in early 2019, noting that it would include a mega-screen MAX, KIDS, and luxury cinema theatre.

In September, India's largest movie theatre operator PVR Ltd unveiled plans to expand overseas, naming Saudi Arabia and the UAE as top destinations for its expansion plans, while in April, US-based AMC Entertainment Holdings said it was planning to acquire a 50% share of Saudi Arabia’s cinema market.

Source: Mubasher

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