Saudi Arabia’s First Movie Theatre To Open In March 2018
Perhaps you had no idea that in the rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there are no movie cinemas.
For 35 years, the country banned establishment and operation of movie cinemas in the kingdom - because it could lead people to sin.
But the country, under a new King Mohammad Bin Salman has started implementing social reforms that will help it adapt to a modern economy without oil.
So, after lifting ban on women driving in September, it lifted its decade ban on cinemas on Monday.
The government said it would begin licensing cinemas immediately and the first movie theatres are expected to open March 2018.
Analysts say reviving cinemas would represent a paradigm shift in the kingdom, which is promoting entertainment as part of a sweeping reform plan for a post-oil era, despite opposition from conservatives who have long vilified movie theatres as vulgar and sinful.
"Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years," the culture and information ministry said in a statement.
"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom," the statement quoted Information Minister Awwad Alawwad as saying.
When this eventually happens, cinema halls would be expected, like many other public places, to be segregated by gender or have a separate sections for families.
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