Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Cinemas After Decades-Long Ban

Calvin Saunders
December 12, 2017

The move to allow them to reopen is part of a series of social reforms embarked upon by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince.

It certainly appears that they will be needed - Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and information has promised that movies will be censored and edited to ensure that they don't "contradict with Sharia laws and moral values in the Kingdom".

The Saudi General Authority for Audiovisual Media, which is headed by Culture and Information Minister Awwad Saleh Alawwad, approved to begin granting licenses to cinemas in the kingdom within a period that does not exceed 90 days.

In September, Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving, and in October the country made a decision to allow women into sports stadiums. "By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the kingdom's entertainment options", he added. The projected revenue is 90 billion riyals (or $24 billion), which will be bolstered by the creation of more than 30,000 jobs, the A.P. notes.

The world's biggest oil exporter is struggling to cope with low prices and spending cuts aimed to reducing a budget deficit that reached about 15 percent of gross domestic product in 2015.

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Like most public spaces in the Al-Saoud kingdom, movie theaters will have separate sections for men and women as well as a section for families.

Saudi filmmakers have long argued that a ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube.

Actor and producer Hisham Fageeh, who starred in Saudi film Barakah Meets Barakah, said: 'It's spectacular news. He apparently has support from his father, King Salman, to address a number of social reforms.

In September, Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree allowing women to drive for the first time in the history of the Arabian kingdom. However, he has also arrested several clerics and activists and detained senior princes and businessmen in what the government calls an anti-corruption campaign.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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