. AMC
. AMC

Saudi Arabia’s first cinema in 35 years to open this month



Saudi Arabia’s first cinema in more than three decades will open in Riyadh this month after a ban was lifted last year as part of a far-reaching reform measures.

AMC Entertainment has been granted the first licence to operate cinemas, with Saudi state media saying the company is expected to open 40 cinemas across 15 Saudi cities in the next five years.

“AMC plans to open the kingdom’s first cinema theatre in Riyadh on April 18,” the information ministry’s Centre for International Communication said.

The news comes after Chinese-owned AMC Entertainment signed a non-binding agreement in December with Saudi Arabia’s vast Public Investment Fund (PIF) to build and operate cinemas across the kingdom.

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Read more:

First Saudi cinemas to open by late 2018

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“The granting of the first licence marks the opening of very significant opportunities for exhibitors,” Information Minister Awwad Alawwad was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The Saudi market is very large, with the majority of the population ... eager to watch their favourite films here at home.”

AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said the company's first cinema will be in the King Abdullah Financial District, in a building originally intended to be a symphony concert hall. The main theatre will feature about 500 leather seats, orchestra and balcony levels, and marble bathrooms, he told Reuters. Three more screens will be added by mid-summer.

"We think it's going to be the prettiest movie theatre in the world," Mr Aron said. "It's a dramatic building."

The Kingdom is set to have nearly 350 cinemas, with more than 2,500 screens, by 2030. With a population of more than 32 million, the majority of whom are under the age of 30, Saudi Arabia is set to become the largest market for moviegoers in the Arabian Gulf region.

AMC will still face stiff competition from other heavyweights including Dubai-based Vox Cinemas, the leading operator in the Middle East.

The move to reopen cinemas is part of a modernisation drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is seeking to balance unpopular subsidy cuts in an era of low oil prices with more entertainment options — despite opposition from religious hardliners.

Long known for its conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social reforms that includes boosting sports and entertainment and allowing women to drive from June.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced it would stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts this year, double the number of last year, and pump US$64 billion (Dh235.07bn) into the sector in the coming decade.

The reform stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment, as the kingdom reels from an oil slump since 2014.

The move to allow movie theatres opens up a domestic market expected to be worth up to $1bn in annual box-office sales.

Mr Aron said he expected that the same versions of films shown in other countries in the region such as Dubai or Kuwait would be suitable for Saudi Arabia. "Hollywood has long ago dealt with the sensitivities of the Middle East and have adjusted film product accordingly," he said. "Major Hollywood studios are showing films all over the Middle East right now."

Separately, Six Flags Entertainment said it planned to develop a theme park in Riyadh in partnership with PIF. Terms were not disclosed.

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Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
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Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
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A Cat, A Man, and Two Women
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Translated by Paul McCarthy
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Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

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7.05pm: UAE 1000 Guineas (TB) | Listed $250,000 (D) | 1,600m

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7.40pm: Meydan Classic Trial (TB) | Conditions $100,000 (Turf) | 1,400m

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Age 26

Born May 17, 1991

Height 1.80 metres

Birthplace Sydney, Australia

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WTA titles 3

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Wins / losses 312 / 181

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Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
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About RuPay

A homegrown card payment scheme launched by the National Payments Corporation of India and backed by the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank

RuPay process payments between banks and merchants for purchases made with credit or debit cards

It has grown rapidly in India and competes with global payment network firms like MasterCard and Visa.

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
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Rating: 4/5

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Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

UAE - India ties

The UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner after the US and China

Annual bilateral trade between India and the UAE has crossed US$ 60 billion

The UAE is the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil for India

Indians comprise the largest community with 3.3 million residents in the UAE

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi first visited the UAE in August 2015

His visit on August 23-24 will be the third in four years

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited India in February 2016

Sheikh Mohamed was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2017

Modi will visit Bahrain on August 24-25

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Cheat’s nigiri 
This is easier to make than sushi rolls. With damp hands, form the cooled rice into small tablet shapes. Place slices of fresh, raw salmon, mackerel or trout (or smoked salmon) lightly touched with wasabi, then press, wasabi side-down, onto the rice. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger.

Easy omurice
This fusion dish combines Asian fried rice with a western omelette. To make, fry cooked and cooled sushi rice with chopped vegetables such as carrot and onion and lashings of sweet-tangy ketchup, then wrap in a soft egg omelette.

Deconstructed sushi salad platter 
This makes a great, fuss-free sharing meal. Arrange sushi rice on a platter or board, then fill the space with all your favourite sushi ingredients (edamame beans, cooked prawns or tuna, tempura veggies, pickled ginger and chilli tofu), with a dressing or dipping sauce on the side.

'Outclassed in Kuwait'
Taleb Alrefai, 
HBKU Press 

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The Emirates Charity Portal

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The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

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Al Noor Special Needs Centre

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Dar Al Ber Society

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Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

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Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

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Jonathan Miller, Scribe Publications

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2. Stefan Kueng (Switzerland / BMC Racing) 17

3. Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus / Team Sky) 15

4. Tony Martin (Germany / Katusha) 13

5. Matteo Trentin (Italy / Quick-Step) 11

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7. Jos van Emden (Netherlands / LottoNL) 9

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Rating: 4/5

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How to increase your savings
  • Have a plan for your savings.
  • Decide on your emergency fund target and once that's achieved, assign your savings to another financial goal such as saving for a house or investing for retirement.
  • Decide on a financial goal that is important to you and put your savings to work for you.
  • It's important to have a purpose for your savings as it helps to keep you motivated to continue while also reducing the temptation to spend your savings. 

- Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching

 

 

WandaVision

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany

Directed by: Matt Shakman

Rating: Four stars

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5