After 35-year ban, Saudi Arabia to reopen cinemas in 2018

13 December, 2017, 04:31 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Prince Miteb bin Abdullah

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom", said Culture Minister Awwad Alawwad in a statement.

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

The modernist decision is part of bin Salman's and the government's initiative Vision 2030, which seeks to broaden their country's sources of revenue outside of the oil industry.

Theater-goers are expected to be lining up in March 2018 when movie houses will again be licensed.

The kingdom said there will be 300 cinemas by 2030, although it was not clear whether most major Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic releases would be shown and how heavily edited the content will be.


The industry is expected to contribute about Dollars 24 billion to the economy and create more than 30,000 permanent jobs. They argue it makes no sense to ban cinemas when movies today are readily available online.

Actor and producer Hisham Fageeh, who starred in Saudi film Barakah Meets Barakah, said: 'It's spectacular news.

Yet, he voiced his concern over censorship, as "any kind of intimacy and love is considered taboo and a moral violation". He apparently has support from his father, King Salman, to address a number of social reforms.

Saudi Arabia is lifting a decades-old ban on cinemas and will allow both men and women in the audience - but media commentators don't expect to see couples sitting together watching steamy thrillers any time soon.

By forming an anti-corruption committee, the Crown Prince ordered the detention of senior princes and businessmen, in what media described as a massive purge.

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