Vue helps Saudi Arabia lift the curtain after 35-year cinema ban

Vue helps Saudi Arabia lift the curtain after 35-year cinema ban

The joint venture entails construction of up to 30 multiplexes in existing and new Saudi sites over the next three years.

The Saudi Arabian firm now owns and operates three shopping centres, 79 entertainment centres and 45 hotels in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt. They were the only exhibitor invited to attend the country's Future Investment Initiative conference held in Riyadh in October 2017 and have since then been engaged in high level meetings and conversations on building and operating state-of-the-art multiplex cinemas in the region.

"This is a huge moment in the history of global cinema development for the exhibition industry and we are honoured to be partnering with such a well regarded and prestigious operator", Richards said in a statement this morning. "Our combined experience is world-class and we have some incredible plans in place and are excited about what lies ahead".

The cinema chain said that its Saudi picture houses, which will be among the first to open in the country since the ban was lifted, would have separate viewing areas for women with families, and single men.

Saudi Arabia announced late previous year that it would allow cinemas to open in the kingdom starting in 2018, having been shut down during a wave of ultra-conservatism in the 1980s.

The announcement fits into the Prince of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform program, which is set to make women close to one-third of the labor-intensive population to the current 22 percent.

In addition to lifting a ban on women driving next year, the crown prince is behind measures such as bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment to satiate the desires of the country's majority young population.

Wood Group, which bought Amec Foster Wheeler for £2.2bn last year, has worked with Saudi Aramco for more than 30 years.

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