Hollywood home cinema coming to Saudi Arabia



Internet TV subscriptions in Saudi Arabia are forecast to quadruple next year, boosted in part by a new home-cinema service showing Hollywood films.

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There are currently about 20,000 subscribers to the Saudi Telecom Company's (STC) internet protocol television (IPTV) service.

That is forecast to grow to up to 90,000 next year, according to Intigral, which operates STC's television service.

Karim Daoud, the chief executive of Intigral, said there had been a "very encouraging start" to the InVision TV service, which launched last year. "We're closing the year on target, in terms of reaching slightly more than 20,000 homes connected to the IPTV service," said Mr Daoud. "Next year we should be at anywhere from 70,000 to 90,000 subscribers."

STC's InVision is similar to broadband TV services provided by Etisalat and du in the UAE. Such services compete with satellite television, the dominant form of TV broadcasting in the Arab world.

Intigral acquires the rights to film and TV content and encodes it for delivery over IPTV, as well as via mobile devices and the Web. It also censors content according to its clients' instructions.

The company is a joint venture between STC, All Asia Networks and Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

Mr Daoud said Intigral had this year signed deals with four big Hollywood studios to show movies in Saudi Arabia at the same time they are released on DVD elsewhere in the region. Cinemas are banned in Saudi Arabia and the company says it is hoping to secure further rights, which would apply to films under cinema release, in the near future.

Customers will be able to watch the videos on a pay-per-view basis, said Mr Daoud.

"We're able to tap into this unique window, where the movie is available on the [IPTV] box at the same time it shows in theatres in the neighbouring GCC countries or in Egypt," he said.

"We have confirmed all the Hollywood studios. They're bringing on board the best of Hollywood entertainment, from Warner, Disney, Sony and Paramount. There's one more to go, which is Universal. But all the others are signed up."

He added Intigral was in "the final stages of concluding the deal" with Universal.

A similar movie service is already available for Arabic and independent films, and Mr Daoud said he hoped the Hollywood titles would be available "in the first half of next year". Intigral also provides mobile and Web-based TV services in Saudi Arabia, as well as mobile-TV in Bahrain and Kuwait.

It says it is in discussions with "various operators" in the region over similar services.

"We're not a [business to consumer] player. We always do it in partnership with the local telecoms operators," said Mr Daoud. "We provide white-label solutions."

Intigral has deals with local media companies to carry 150 standard-definition channels, including those owned by OSN, Al Jazeera, and Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns and publishes The National.

This article has been modified from the original which incorrectly stated Intigral had signed deals with four Hollywood studios to show movies in Saudi Arabia at the same time they are released in the cinema - rather than on DVD - elsewhere in the Gulf.

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE


Company name: Clara
Started: 2019
Founders: Patrick Rogers, Lee McMahon, Arthur Guest, Ahmed Arif
Based: Dubai
Industry: LegalTech
Funding size: $4 million of seed financing
Investors: Wamda Capital, Shorooq Partners, Techstars, 500 Global, OTF, Venture Souq, Knuru Capital, Plug and Play and The LegalTech Fund

The biog

Name: Abeer Al Shahi

Emirate: Sharjah – Khor Fakkan

Education: Master’s degree in special education, preparing for a PhD in philosophy.

Favourite activities: Bungee jumping

Favourite quote: “My people and I will not settle for anything less than first place” – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

MOST POLLUTED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

RESULT

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2
Arsenal:
Aubameyang (13')
Chelsea: Jorginho (83'), Abraham (87') 

England XI for second Test

Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes, Joe Root (c), Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes (wk), Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, James Anderson

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Zimbabwe v UAE, ODI series

All matches at the Harare Sports Club:

1st ODI, Wednesday, April 10

2nd ODI, Friday, April 12

3rd ODI, Sunday, April 14

4th ODI, Tuesday, April 16

UAE squad: Mohammed Naveed (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammed Usman, CP Rizwan, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Ghulam Shabber, Sultan Ahmed, Imran Haider, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Some of Darwish's last words

"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.