At the recently concluded 71st Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France; the Saudi Arabia Film Commission has come out in its first ever Pavilion and announced that they want to change the face of the movies and their own image in the global movie world in a major way. One of the richest countries in the middle east, Saudi Arabia has only two major screens in their capital Riyadh right now. And one of the main factors that was discussed in the Pavilion by the SAFC was to introduce over 600 screens by 2022.

Right now most of the Saudi population goes to UAE to catch the latest and the best movies on offer at the cinemas there. That’s the reason the SAFC is tying up VOX Cinemas which already has over 250 screens in UAE to bring the chain Saudi Arabia in the major way as well. The head spokesperson also insisted that by the year 2030, they see Saudi Arabia as one the biggest movie industries in the world but they want to achieve this by having great relationships and collaborations with other thriving movie industries in the world i.e. Hollywood and Bollywood. The spokesperson also mentioned that they don’t want to ape Hollywood and Bollywood but have their own voice in the world of movies and present that.

The one thing for producers in the Indian film industries, which will play like the music to their ears, is the brilliant rebate on offer in Saudi Arabia. The SAFC spokesperson said that an initial 35% of cash rebate will be passed on to any production house who will shoot their films in the country. That rebate can climb up to 50% as well if artiste and technicians from the country can be used in the process as well. That is a great place to start from, in the last year alone two of Salman Khan’s major movies TIGER ZINDA HAI and his upcoming RACE 3 have both been shot extensively in Abu Dhabi with the local government pulling all the stops to provide top of the line amenities to the filmmakers. Saudi following the same route like Abu Dhabi can be a great option for the filmmakers in India to shoot in a virgin country like theirs.

In addition, a 30 year ban from films has also been lifted from Saudi Arabia in December of last year and that also means that the Indian movies will open up another key market to exhibit their movies and in turn earn good revenues from the same.

In the recent few months Saudi Arabia has become the second country after Australia to offer attractive offers to lure Indian filmmakers to their shores. With countries like UK, Budapest and Georgia already high on filmmaker’s list these new ones will be great addition to the entire scenario.

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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