By Neil Halligan
Arabian Centres, which has 19 malls and a further 10 in the pipeline, is developing cinemas in its new developments
Saudi Arabia’s largest mall operator has revealed that its new malls under development have space allocated for cinemas.
Arabian Centres, which has 19 shopping centres in highly-populated cities across the kingdom, is currently developing ten new malls with space allocated for cinemas.
As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, authorities the newly established General Authority for Entertainment will at some stage in the future issue entertainment licences that will legalise cinemas in the country.
Arabian Centres, which already has successful operations in the family entertainment sector, in particular the edutainment concept KidZania, will now look to capitalise on what it sees will be a significant growth area for the malls industry.
“It is new. It has been only a few months since the government has announced that it will allow cinemas in the country and that is probably one of the options most of our new malls will be equipped with - the facility to entertain,” Khaled Al Jasser, Arabian Centres CEO, told Arabian Business.
While the licensing process is unchartered territory, Al Jasser is confident authorities will finalise it in the near future.
“The government is very keen to do it and they have appointed a minister to run that [entertainment]. We are waiting for them to give us the green light,” he said.
“Our malls are ready, and even in the old ones we could convert some of the facilities to host them.”
While the ultimate aim will be to operate the cinemas under its own company, Al Jasser conceded that Arabian Centres may have to bring in an existing cinema operator in the early stages.
“All options are open, and at the minute we are getting our license. I’m sure there will be lots of options. We could do it in-house, but definitely we will need an expertise to do it in the first phase,” he said.
Al Jasser said there is undoubtedly a demand for cinemas in the kingdom.
“There is a huge, huge demand. People are desperate to see [them open], especially locally. You know that whenever Saudis go to Bahrain or Dubai, they go to these places a lot. I’m sure the demand is there. We are hoping that it will [be] done very soon.”retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.