Dubai-based VOX Cinemas has revealed plans to open at least four IMAX theatres in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf kingdom's decision to lift a decades-old ban on the industry.
IMAX Corporation and VOX Cinemas on Tuesday announced a sales agreement for a minimum of four new IMAX theatres to be added to new multiplexes in Riyadh and other prime locations.
The first IMAX theatre has opened at VOX Cinemas’ new four-screen multiplex in Saudi Arabia at Riyadh Park Mall, a statement said.
VOX Cinemas was awarded its licence to operate cinemas in the Kingdom and plans to invest SR2 billion ($533.3 million) to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia over the next five years.
In addition, IMAX theatres will be featured at VOX Cinemas in Majid Al Futtaim’s City Centre Ishbiliyah and Mall of Saudi.
IMAX already has a substantial footprint in the Middle East, with VOX Cinemas operating several successful IMAX locations regionally, including Mall of the Emirates (Dubai), City Centre Qurum (Oman), City Centre Bahrain (Bahrain) and City Centre Beirut (Lebanon).
IMAX first entered the Middle East in 2000, with the IMAX theatre at the Scientific Centre of Kuwait and today has a total of 32 contracted theatres in the region, inclusive of today’s agreement, of which 20 are currently open.
“Saudi Arabia presents an exciting and sizeable new growth opportunity for IMAX, and today’s agreement with our long-time partners at VOX Cinemas marks an important first step in our efforts to capitalize on this untapped market,” said IMAX CEO Richard L Gelfond.
Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas added: “We’re thrilled to bring IMAX to commercial theatres in KSA for the first time. We thank the Saudi Government for the faith they have placed in us and we look forward to contributing to the Saudi Vision 2030 as we support the growth of their new cinema sector.
“We are investing heavily in creating an exceptional movie-watching experience for cinema goers in Saudi Arabia - incorporating not just the latest movie content, but also top-quality food and beverage, superior customer service and cutting-edge technology.”
VOX Cinemas currently operates 322 screens across eight countries in the region.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.