Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

First Saudi Arabian movie theater screens film

First Saudi Arabian movie theater screens film

Now The Arab country ended a almost 40-year ban on cinemas under a positive drive by the crown prince to revise the severely conservative Muslim kingdom.

Around 350 cinemas will be set up with more than 2,500 screens by 2030, from which they hope to earn United States dollars 1 billion through ticket sale. American movie theatre company AMC screened the movie at its single theatre screen in Riyadh.

"The return of cinema to Saudi Arabia marks an important moment in the Kingdom's modern-day history and cultural life, as well as in the development of the Kingdom's entertainment industry", the country minister of culture and information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, said in a statement.

Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to ram through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman. The country is Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom banned cinemas in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists as Saudi society embraced a severe form of Islam. Theatres or not, Saudi natives have been avid audiences of western cinemas and media, in general. Despite the cinema ban, Hollywood films and television series are widely watched at home and private film screenings have been largely tolerated for years.

John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh, said that opening new entertainment venues will encourage Saudis to spend more money at home rather than on vacations in nearby countries. AMC and its local partner hurriedly transformed a concert hall in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, into a cinema complex for Wednesday's screening.

USA -based AMC, one of the world's biggest movie theater operators, only two weeks earlier signed a deal with Prince Mohammed to operate the first cinema in the kingdom. The extent of censorship was not clear but a Saudi official said the same versions of films shown in Dubai or Kuwait will be suitable for Saudi Arabia.

The deeply conservative Muslim kingdom is ending a almost 40-year ban on commercial cinemas, which were shuttered in the early 1980s under pressure from conservatives but are returning through a modernizing drive by the reform-minded crown prince.

Others expressed confusion at what they called the government's about-face on cinemas' permissibility, with one tweeting: "Remember you will stand in front of God. and you will bear the sins of all those who watched the movies". "Meanwhile, we want to provide people with a lovely show and really enjoy watching their own movies", he said.

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