Ahmed Galal Ismail, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim Ventures, stated that MAF is willing to play a role in the Saudi cinema market, following the kingdom’s permission of establishing cinemas in the country. MAF CEO noted that VOX Cinemas have 300 screens out of 600/ 700 screens placed in Gulf countries.
Opening cinemas in Saudi Arabia would have a huge impact on the economic and cultural sectors, said Ismael. He added: “The decision to start up a cinema in Saudi Arabia is a historic moment that was anticipated by investors, given that entertainment is a basic component of the Saudi Vision 2030 announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."
“Saudi Arabia enjoys the biggest market in the Gulf, with a population of 30 million,” he continued.
MAF CEO said there is a huge Saudi turnover on entertainment, which is indicated by the number of users of YouTube and digital entertainment. “This is also shown through the malls of Bahrain, UAE and Oman. Many Saudi families and youths are looking for new entertainment aspects, something that would positively affect the economy and add to the cultural life,” he added.
Ismael hopes that MAF wins the first cinema-operating license in Saudi Arabia, affirming that MAF exists in the market for more than ten years, and has more than 4,000 employees in the fashion and retail sectors. “We are currently planning to inaugurate the biggest entertainment center. We have an investment program that exceeds SAR14 billion (USD3.7 billion) and is to be implemented over a short period of time, which would create direct and indirect opportunities,” revealed Ismael.
Speaking about challenges facing the cinema sector such as Netflix, he said that the competition in the meantime is not over the market share but over getting the consumer’s time.