Abu Dhabi's film and TV production company Image Nation is looking to help Saudi Arabia build its TV and film industry with officials negotiating plans to do so, in line with the kingdom's Vision 2030 .
"[Saudi officials] are now just realizing as part of their own 2030 plan the need to engage young people and build this [film] industry," Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation, told Arabian Business .
"We’re hoping to do basically everything in Saudi that we’re doing here - training, production and development - and helping to build an industry that will ultimately be populated by Khaleejis [Gulf nationals] - that it won’t be a Saudi industry, because we don’t have enough people here. Our aspiration is to build a regional industry."
Cinemas in the kingdom have been banned since the 1980s. Although there have been numerous campaigns targeted to change that, the kingdom still does not offer basic entertainment hubs for film.
Despite the restrictions, Saudi nationals have taken the lead in the industry, proving their talent time and again.
In February, the first Saudi horror film,"Ghabash," to be written, directed and produced by Saudis was released via YouTube. The six-minute film included an all-Saudi cast and was shot entirely in the kingdom.
In March, the third Saudi Film Festival took over the Gulf coast city of Dammam, another initiative aimed to increase the acceptance of cinema in the kingdom.
In 2015, an Arabic hashtag " Allowing Cinema in Saudi Arabia " began trending shortly after false reports began circulating, claiming that cinemas would be allowed in the country.
Several media outlets reported that officials had signed agreements with investors to launch the kingdom's first theaters, however authorities denied all these reports.