Saudi Arabia comes to Cannes with first pavilion and big plans

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With a bold decision to bring cinemas to Saudi Arabia, the country is making rapid moves to ensure presence in the global entertainment arena.

Saudi Arabia has officially announced that it is taking part in the Cannes Film Festival. This would be the first international festival the kingdom participates in following its rapid moves to boost the entertainment sector.

Saudi Arabia will be present at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival with a curated pavilion, industry panels for networking purposes and a selection of nine short films. The Kingdom’s newly established Saudi Film Council will launch its grand pavilion at the Cannes Marché du Film.

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According to a joint statement, issued on Monday by the newly established council and the General Culture Authority (GCA), “various initiatives and programs will offer several opportunities for delegates to interact with Saudi filmmakers.”

Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Culture Minister and Chairman of GCA’s board, said in the statement: “The kingdom looks forward to its debut presence at the festival, celebrating and supporting the diversity of talent and opportunities within the Saudi film industry.”

“Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic industry that supports and encourages all stages of a film cycle and offers an incredible range of locations for the world’s filmmakers to discover,” he added.

Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux welcomed the Saudi initiative: “I am thrilled that Saudi Arabia has launched the Saudi Film Council with a clear focus on nurturing its filmmaking talent and sharing Saudi stories with the world,” he said in a statement.

“It is a great way of opening up global opportunities for its creative talent. The many young filmmakers among the Saudi delegation will have access to the world’s most prestigious film festival, including meaningful interactions with leading, international film industry professionals,” Frémaux added.

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Saudi Arabia has taken major steps to open up the entertainment sector and develop investment in it by signing an agreement with Six Flags to develop recreational parks, as well as to announce the project Al Qadeya, the largest cultural, sporting and entertainment city in Saudi Arabia.

Among the most important Saudi entertainment sector developments, the decision is set to make cinemas available in the Kingdom with expected presence from the UAE’s VOX Cinemas, Vu the British chain, the American AMC and the Canadian IMAX.

Plans of investing $64 bln in the Saudi entertainment sector over the next 10 years, were also announced, as well as allowing women to attend concerts and setting up 5,000 recreational events in 2018.

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