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Empire Entertainment Makes Bold Moves Into Saudi Market

May 07, 2019 / NICK VIVARELLI

A century after Georges N. Haddad opened the Arab world’s first movie theater in the heart of downtown Beirut, the Haddad family’s pioneering spirit is at the forefront of the latest new frontier in the dissemination of cinema across the region.These days, Empire Entertainment is a multi-pronged operation with offices in Lebanon, the Gulf, Iraq, Egypt and recently, Saudi Arabia.Roughly two years ago, when word got out that the kingdom would end its 35-year ban on cinemas, they “started scouting for the ideal partner,” says Gino Haddad, who operates the family-run company’s exhibition side. A good match was mutually found with another family with a similar origin story —Saudi Arabia’s prominent Al-Rashed conglomerate.Both companies were launched by an entrepreneur with two sons — and Empire forged a partnership with Al-Rashed.