Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is eyeing the kingdom’s emerging cinema sector via an agreement with US-based cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.
The signing of the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities, announced on Tuesday, came the day after Saudi Arabia announced the lifting of a 35-year ban on cinemas.
“In line with the fund’s mandate to help unlock promising new sectors within the kingdom, PIF and AMC Entertainment will explore theatrical exhibition and related investment and partnership opportunities in Saudi Arabia,” PIF said in a statement.
AMC, the owner of the Odeon brand, is one of the world’s largest movie theatre operators, with approximately 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens across the globe.
The Saudi government on Monday said movie theatres would be permitted to begin showing films from as early as March.
The government said it expected to open more than 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry that would contribute more than 90 billion riyals (US$24bn) to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs over the same period.
Licensing and regulation details will be announced during the coming weeks.
The government said the films would be censored to make sure they remain “in line with values and principles in place and do not contradict Sharia Laws and moral values in the kingdom”.
Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim, which owns the Vox Cinemas chain, has already said it wants to open the first movie theatre in the kingdom.
Source Credit: The National