Dubai-based retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has announced an investment of over Dhs750 million in VOX Cinemas through its entertainment arm MAF Ventures.
The investment will facilitate the expansion of VOX Cinemas over the next five years as the firm plans to launch in five additional locations across the region. This would bring the number of projects in MAF’s development pipeline across the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt to 12, a statement said.
VOX Cinemas will operate over 250 screens in the MENA region once the expansion plan gets completed, registering a growth of 400 per cent in the four years since MAF took control of the company.
New projects would be progressively rolled out from June 2014, MAF said.
The expansion will begin with the opening of two cinemas in Muscat City Centre and Qurum City Centre in June this year. VOX Cinemas will also open a 20-screen complex in Aldar’s Yas Island Mall in November and a new cinema in the extension of Sharjah City Centre in 2014.
The company also recently announced that it would develop the largest cinema in Qatar in Doha Festival City, while new locations are planned in the Shindagha area of Dubai and in the Burjuman Centre, MAF said.
“Middle Eastern box offices have enjoyed double digit annual growth in recent years, owing in many cases to the expanding network of cinemas that have been developed across the Middle East,” said Ahmed Galal Ismail, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim – Ventures.
“Our investment in cinema in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt will see these expanding territories also enjoy modern and innovative cinemas that exceed international standards.”
In addition to launching in new locations, MAF has also embarked on renovation and relocation of existing properties, especially the VOX Cinemas in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates.
“We have commenced construction of a new 24-screen cinema in Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of the Emirates, which we are confident will set new standards for cinema exhibition across the world,” said Ismail
“To ensure that we create a cinema worthy of such a premium mall location, the company will construct a new 100,000 square foot entertainment destination that will include all of the latest international cinema technologies.”
UAE cineplexes have been growing steadily with most of them expanding their offerings.
Emaar Retail, a subsidiary of Dubai developer Emaar, recently announced plans to open and manage a 10-screen Reel Cinemas complex at The Beach, a new mall being developed by Meraas Holding in Dubai Marina.
Grand Cinemas too has been on an aggressive regional expansion drive since 2013 and has announced plans to launch four new theatres within the GCC this year. The new screens will be located in Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Centre and Dubai’s Dragon Mart along with cinemas in The Pearl- Doha and Muharraq Mall in Bahrain.