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06 December 2023

Inaugural MENA Cinema Forum to be held in Dubai

By Wam

Investment of more than US$3.54 billion in cinema screens across the Gulf is expected to help the region’s cinema industry expand manifold following Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open up the sector 35 years after cinemas were banned in the kingdom.

The expansion of the region’s box offices and the industry’s evolution provides massive opportunities as well as comes with challenges – many of which will be addressed at a two-day MENA Cinema Forum – the first-ever business conference to the regional market to be held at the Grand Hyatt on 28th and 29th October in Dubai.

More than 45 speakers will discuss cinema-related issues – challenges and opportunities – in front of an audience of 450 industry professionals, businessmen, 60 sponsors and delegates from 30 countries across the world.

Some of the key topics tackled include the transition through digital disruption and the economic impact of the growing cinema industry as well as the effect of the Saudi cinema market across the region.

"The cinema industry in the Middle East is entering an exciting phase with the opening up of the Saudi market after 35 years and the MENA Cinema Forum will bring the developments under a series of focussed discussions in two days," said Leila Masinaei, Managing Director of GM Events, organiser of the MENA Cinema Forum.

"The Saudi Government anticipates 300 cinemas will open by 2030, contributing US$24 billion to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs. Since the closure of the theatres in Saudi Arabia 35 years ago, the entire region has undergone a cultural shift with the penetration of digital technology which has impacted the entertainment industry."

Valued at US$26.4 billion in 2016, the Middle East Cinema market forecast the growth at 7.4 percent amounting to over $35 billion, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, presenting an unprecedented business opportunity for global brands keen to penetrate a lucrative market.