Movie theaters to open in Saudi Arabia for first time in 35 years

by WorldTribune Staff, December 11, 2017

Return of the Jedi and Terms of Endearment were the box office hits the last time Saudis had access to movies on the big screen.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information announced on Dec. 11 that it would allow cinemas to operate beginning in early 2018, 35 years after Risky Business and Flashdance made a splash in theaters.

Minister for Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said in a statement, “As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom. We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”

In the coming years, the ministry said over 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens are expected to open throughout the kingdom.

Related: Saudi crown prince vows return to moderate Islam: ‘We didn’t know how to deal’ with fire Iran sparked, Oct. 27, 2017

“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom,” Alawwad said. “Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

The decision is part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 social and economic reform program.

In September, Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving, and in October the country decided to allow women into sports stadiums.


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