Saudi Arabia lifts 35-year-old ban on cinemas

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3257425575On December 11, Saudi Arabia announced to lift a 35-year-old ban on movie theatres from early next year. The cinemas would be allowed in the conservative kingdom for the first time in over 35 years.

According to Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, the cinemas can be opened in March 2018.

“As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the kingdom,” Alawwad was quoted as saying. “We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”

According to him, this was a part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s social and economic reforms programme, aimed “to encourage an open and rich domestic culture for Saudis.”

In the early 1980s Cinemas were banned under pressure from Islamists but now according to new reforms led by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia plans to ease out many restrictions. There is also a plan to lift a ban on women driving in 2018, according to reports.

“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification,” the minister added.

 “By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

Soon a commission chaired by Alawwad is going to announce details of licencing and regulations, the government said.