Film partnerships News

First GCC film releases in Saudi Arabia

Feature film Shabab Sheyab has premiered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, becoming the first GCC film to play in cinemas in the country following the opening of cinemas in the Kingdom this year.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi released the film in Riyadh. The UAE premiere will take place at Atlantis The Palm on November 17, with the full cinema release on November 22.

Directed and written by Yasir Al-Yasiri, the family-friendly movie follows four elderly friends (featuring prominent GCC actors: Saad Al Faraj, Marei Al Halian and Mansoor Al Feeli, alongside Syrian star Salloum Haddad) living in a senior citizens’ home. When one of them inherits a large fortune, the friends escape for a life-changing adventure in Dubai, encouraged by their doctor and nurse, played by Kuwaiti stars Laila Abdullah and Fouad Ali.

Commenting on the universal appeal of the film, Yasir Al-Yasiri said: “Shabab Sheyab tells a story of family, friendship and self-discovery that is universally relatable but will particularly appeal to GCC audiences – so it’s very exciting that it will be the first regional film released in Saudi Arabia. Arabic-language entertainment best reflects the region’s way of life. With an incredible cast and crew from across the Arab world, including the UAE, Kuwait and Syria, regional voices and stories have been at the heart of this project from start to finish.”

Saudi Arabia is set to open almost 350 cinemas with 2,500 screens by 2030, serving an audience of 32 million consumers. The entertainment industry is expected to contribute $24bn to the local economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.

Commenting on the potential of the country for the cinema industry, Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious vision for a sustainable and commercially viable film industry, and with 15 million consumers under the age of 25, this is a significant new market for local creativity. Arabic-language entertainment is in high demand among Saudi and GCC audiences, so opening the first regionally-made film in the country is a major milestone and sets the tone for a bright future.”

Image Nation is the studio behind Shabab Sheyab, and the film is produced by Rami Yasin’s Breakout Films and Starship Entertainment – a partnership between Al Yasiri and Al Feeli. Tanweer Films is distributing the film across the MENA region.