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Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban On Cinemas

Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban On Cinemas

Saudi Arabia is set to lift the ban on cinema which has lasted for about 35 years. According to the Ministry of Culture and Information, issuance of licenses will commence immediately and that the first cinemas were expected to open in March 2018.

It is expected to open up a domestic market of more than 32 million people and that it anticipated there would be more than 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030.

The initiative is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 social and economic reform programme. Vision 2030, unveiled by the 32-year-old crown prince last year, aims to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities in the oil-dependent kingdom from 2.9% to 6% by 2030.

A statement issued by the culture ministry on Monday said the decision to license cinemas was “central to the government’s programme to encourage an open and rich domestic culture for Saudis”.

“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” Culture Minister Awwad 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.”

During an economic conference attended by foreign investors the following month, Prince Mohammed declared that Saudi Arabia would once again be “a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions, traditions and people”.

Seventy per cent of the Saudi population were under 30 and they wanted a “life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness. ”

He insisted Saudi Arabia “was not like this before 1979”, when there was an Islamic revolution in Iran and militants occupied Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Afterwards, public entertainment was banned and clerics were given more control over public life.

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December 11th, 2017

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