For a very long time Baghdad did not have much of a movie theatre scene. Cinemas that used to be packed with movie enthusiasts were empty as the country experienced crisis upon crisis. This did not mean that Baghdadis were not keen movie goers. The country’s first movie projection took place in 1909 and as projection technology became more readily available, a local movie industry also started to develop. However, things took a turn for the worst as Iraq went through a difficult period in its history. Today there has been a revival of movie theatres and even locally made movies, Baghdadis and Iraqis as a whole, like so many people around the world are also looking to be entertained.
One Iraqi entrepreneur who decided to bring back the movie theatre is Mr. Ziad Fadil, who started the project in 2009 by selling his only house to get the necessary financing. By 2011, with enough financing in place, his company Sama Aliraq opened its first two theatres under the brand name Iraqi Cinema in the prestigious Iraqi Hunting Club. However, the club offered a limited number of seats to moviegoers which meant a limited number of customers for Iraqi Cinema.
The opportunity to expand came in 2013 when a modern mall, the Al Mansour Mall, was opened in Baghdad. The mall allowed Iraqi Cinema to open a theatre complex with seven new screens. The company enjoyed much success among Iraqi moviegoers and the company was able to expand operations by opening two new theatres in 2015, in Al Nakhil Mall. What had started as a small operation in a private club soon expanded outside of Baghdad. In 2016 Mr. Fadil signed a contract to provide technical support to a cinema in the Dohuk province in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
As an entrepreneur keen on growing his business by offering moviegoers the best possible experience, Mr. Fadil approached GroFin for support. The financial support the company received was used for working capital, as part of payroll payments and for film distribution. An additional seven theatres were opened thanks to GroFin’s support, today the total number of theatres managed by the company is 23. These include Max Theatre which is a first in Iraq. The investment allows Iraqi Cinema to sustain 95 jobs of which 18 are held by women.
GroFin’s backing does not stop with financial help, the GroFin Iraq office also provided business support to Iraqi Cinema. The support involves advice on implementing proper accounting management and financial reporting as well as improving marketing efforts.
It must be added that this funding is part of GroFin Iraq’s support to innovation in economically and culturally significant spheres.