Saudi Arabia ends decades-long ban on movie theaters

Michele Moreno
December 13, 2017

Although there are no cinemas, young Saudi filmmakers have been given government support in recent years, and it has also backed a film festival in the eastern city of Dhahran.

Cinemas have been outlawed in the ultra-conservative region for 35 years as they were seen as a threat to cultural and cultural and religious identity.

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will now issue permits to the commercial theatres, lifting a almost 35-year-old ban on cinema.

The initiative is the latest example of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman progressing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century through a wave of social legislation that includes allowing women to drive and approving music concerts.

Minister for Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said in a statement, "As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom". 32-year-old crown prince stated the goal of the program was to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities in the oil-dependent kingdom from 2.9% to 6% by 2030.

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom", Alawwad said. Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, which owns VOX Cinemas, said it wanted to open the first movie theatre there. Recently, Saudi Arabia has lifted Ban of Women Driving and Women Voting in 2017.

Many of Saudi Arabia's clerics believe Western movies, and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon, are sinful.

It certainly appears that they will be needed - Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and information has promised that movies will be censored and edited to ensure that they don't "contradict with Sharia laws and moral values in the Kingdom".

The Ministry added: "The movies' content will be subject to censorship according to the Kingdom's media policy standards".

Other reports by Insurance News

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