Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Movie Theater Ban
Saudi Arabia is opening its theater doors for the first time in 35 years, after an official declaration has overruled a more than three-decades-old anti-movie decree.
This move to build more theaters was a focus of the Future Investment Conference, which was held in Riyadh in October. Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said today, per Deadline, “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.”
The movie theater rollout is expected to begin in March of next year and is all part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud’s Vision 2030 program. The Crown Prince is seen as a progressive (by royal decree, Saudi women were granted the right to drive this year). Movie theaters in Saudi Arabia were closed in 1982 after a clerical decree and have stayed shut for more than three decades. With this new plan, there are projected to be 300 cinemas and more than 2,000 screens in the country by 2030. Censorship could still be an issue in these cinemas, but the General Entertainment Authority had said before that they want to introduce content and entertainment that “will be like 99 percent of what is going on in London and New York.”