Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia lifts 35-year ban on cinemas

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that public cinemas would be allowed in the kingdom for the first time in over 35 years and that the first ones were likely to open next March.

Cinemas were banned in the 1980s as they were considered a threat to religious and cultural identity.

Under reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the government is easing many of those restrictions and has also lifted the ban on women driving. Cinemas will benefit from the growth of the entertainment industry.

“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification,” said Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad. “By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enrich the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

By 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to open more than 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens, a government statement said, predicting that the cinema industry would contribute over 90 billion riyals to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs by 2030.

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