Saudi Arabia rolled out the big red carpet last week with the launch of the Saudi Film Festival in its fifth edition. Bollywood and Hollywood stars were featured guests in panel talks moderated by non-other than Lebanese media personality Raya Abirached

In one of these sessions, thousands of Saudis and residents got to see their favorite hero on stage, legendary Bollywood actor Salman Khan, for the first time in the kingdom. Not only did his name sell out all tickets for the Evening With The Stars session, he also got a welcome that perfectly fits royalty upon arriving in Saudi Arabia. 

During the interview, the Tiger Zinda Hai actor spoke of his illustrious career in film and shared insights into his blockbuster success.

Though the event wasn't broadcast live, videos and images snapped by those in attendance were circulated on social media.

This is the first time Khan visits the kingdom and to say that his Saudi-based fans were excited over his trip is truly an understatement. 

Hundreds lined up to welcome Khan at the airport

Fans completely lost it

"Man of the evening just arrived"

"Welcome wallah welcome"

"I can't even handle the fact that me and bae are in the same country"

The fifth edition of the Saudi Film Festival celebrates regional talents

This edition of the film festival opened on the 21st of March at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran and is part of Ithra's Sharqiah Season Festival. 

The six-day event is organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts and "aims to discover and nurture talented filmmakers from across the region, helping them build connections within the industry." 

Several local films were celebrated at the festival including the award winning Saudi film The Investor, written and directed by Khalid Fahad. 

Other than Salman Khan, the event also features an on-stage interview session with American actor and star Cuba Gooding Jr

He's best known for his interpretation of former running back and convict Orenthal James Simpson - aka The Juice - in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story documentary on Netflix.

Previous editions of the event went forth despite the fact that no cinemas were open to the public in Saudi Arabia. This year marks the first time the festival is held after the kingdom's ban lift on cinemas. 

In 2017, the country officially ended its long-standing ban on cinemas. Months later, several movie theaters opened across the kingdom. 

Things are now also shaping up for the country's cinema industry. According to a recent study by PwC Middle East, a global advisory firm, the kingdom's cinema industry is expected to generate $1.5 billion in revenue by 2030.