Since the 1980s, cinemas had been banned in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the better part of four decades.

However, this all changed in 2018. It was announced by the General Commission for Audio-visual Media that the ban would be lifted on cinemas in Saudi Arabia and since then the country has embarked on a new mission to promote culture and entertainment.

Now, four years on, it appears cinema has become a focal entertainment point in the Kingdom. In a recent report published by the Saudi Press Agency, there have been over 30 million ticket sales in cinemas in the last four years, with around 1,144 films shown, including 22 Saudi films across 56 theatres.

With the news came a larger scope of employment in the country, giving 4,439 young Saudi men and women the opportunity to work in the media market.

Regarded as “a billion-dollar opportunity”, the 35-year ban uplift came with several perks such as forecasting the Kingdom’s cinema box office market to be USD 950 million in 2030, per PWC.

The rule change came to be in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 vision: “A strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.”


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As cinemas continue to be an important sector for increasing investment and improving expansion, the country has already established itself as an emerging market to watch. To support the growing industry, the second edition of The Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) is set to run from December 1 to 10, 2022 in Jeddah.

“At Expo 2020 Dubai, the Saudi Arabia Pavilion also celebrated several cultural sectors of the Kingdom. Visitors had an opportunity to watch a number of Saudi films under the cultural program ’16 Windows’ that reflected the country’s creativity and talent in a completely new light,” as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

With the film industry now booming in the Kingdom, more cinemas are set to open to enhance the Kingdom’s competitiveness on the global map.

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