CEO eyes opening of 300 cinemas in Gulf kingdom in next five years - report
VOX Cinemas is reportedly planning a major expansion in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf kingdom's decision to grant new licences for the first time in decades.
The unit of Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim wants to open 300 cinemas in Saudi Arabia within the next five years, according to the company’s CEO.
“We have around 300 screens (in the Middle East region) at the moment, without Saudi we will at least reach 600 by 2020. With Saudi, we expect by 2021, we could be in the 1,000-screen range,” said VOX Cinemas’ CEO Cameron Mitchell in comments published by Zawya.
“We anticipate at least 300 screens in three to five years in Saudi Arabia,” he told the website.
His comments come just weeks after Saudi Arabia began issuing licences to operate cinemas in the kingdom.
The move is another step towards opening the Saudi market to regional and international theatre chains, which have long eyed the kingdom as the Middle East's last untapped mass market.
The culture and information ministry said it had "finalised the terms of licencing to restore cinema in Saudi Arabia".
Earlier this year, VOX Cinemas launched its first public screening in Saudi Arabia to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease but it has long-term plans for the kingdom.
Mitchell said VOX is still waiting for the legislation governing the sector to be finalised, adding: “We expect the legislation should come out within the next sort of three to four weeks.”
“As soon as that happens, we will make an announcement that [will] sort of cover all our plans for the kingdom but we are organising ourselves to be ready to move quickly as soon as the announcement is made and the legislation is confirmed,” he told Zawya.