The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on April 18, 2018 opened its first public movie theatre, after over 35 years of prohibition for religious reasons.
A special screening of Marvel superhero film ‘Black Panther’ was held in Riyadh, which was attended by Saudi Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad along with Saudi royalty, celebrities and guest filmmakers.
The first public screening will be held on April 20, the tickets for which went on sale on April 19.
The gulf nation would be opening more cinema theatres, roughly 350 cinemas and 2,500 screens, by 2030. The development follows passing of a resolution on December 11, 2017 that lifted the decades-old ban on providing licenses to commercial movie theatres.
• The opening of the theatres will help develop a broader cultural sector in the kingdom and enrich its entertainment options.
• It will also create new employment and training opportunities.
• All the films scheduled to be screened at the theatres will be subjected to censorship according to the media policy standards of the kingdom.
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• The movie theatres were shut down in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s during a wave of ultra-conservatism in the country, as many of the clerics then viewed western movies and even Arabic ones as sinful.
• In a landmark decision, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information announced in December 2017 that it would be lifting the ban on public movie theatres.
• The development marks a major milestone for reforms spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under his Vision 2030.
• The Arab nation has been a witness to a series of new progressive reforms ever since Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed as the Crown Prince on 21 June 2017.
• His proposed Saudi 2030 vision includes economic, social and religious changes.
• The Prince has successfully lobbied for regulations restricting the powers of the religious police and established an entertainment authority that has hosted comedy shows, concerts, pro wrestling events and other entertaining shows.
• He is also the key figure behind the removal of the ban on female drivers and letting women attend football games in stadiums.
• The oil-rich kingdom is also undergoing an economic reform to reduce its dependency on oil and to project the country as a more liberal and modern economy, which is also tourist friendly.