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Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen
Chief Executive Officer at Novo Cinemas


Since taking on the role in 2013, Debbie has turned Novo Cinemas into the household entertainment brand it is today, offering more than just a venue to watch movies, but an immersive state-of-the-art destination for a variety of entertainment options through strategic partnerships and organic growth. Novo Cinemas operates 17 locations and 178 screens across four countries in the GCC and is planning further expansion across the region including KSA and beyond.

As an accomplished leader with more than 30 years of experience in the Entertainment, Events and MICE Hospitality industries, Debbie is a CEO with an extensive understanding of public, government and private organizations with a proven track record of driving growth and successful business development. In 2005 she moved to the Middle East to help establish the Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority, also assuming the role of CEO for the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre and then went on to become the CEO of events@bahrain, a company established under the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company; Sovereign Wealth Fund. 

Respected by her peers and her partners, Debbie has worked with her Executive team to elevate Novo Cinemas from a standard cinema experience to an innovative events and entertainment hub through strategic partnerships, technological advancements, new experience offerings and Event Cinema opportunities for consumers. Under her leadership, leading global brands have partnered with Novo such as IMAX, MX4D, Dolby ATMOS, Coca-Cola, Mashreq Bank, Jaguar, Land Rover, BEin Sports, Emirates Airline, Mastercard, Etisalat, Ooredoo, Qatar Airways, HSBC and the Bolshoi Ballet.

Debbie’s vision and commitment have transformed Novo Cinemas into the regional go-to film entertainment hub it is today, featuring unparalleled film technology, diverse content, cinema design and comfort, all of which are served up to customers with gourmet concessions and the highest level of customer care. It is this level of leadership that has landed her in the Top 50 Women in Global Cinema list for the past five years as well as most recently voted one of Top 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World 2019,  Middle East Female CEO of the Year 2018/9, Global LinkedIn Influencer 2020 and UAE Woman of Substance 2018.