Saudi Arabia to allow Cinemas Re-Open, Ending 35-Year Ban

Saudi Arabia to allow Cinemas Re-Open, Ending 35-Year Ban

The announcement is in line with Vision 2030; the social and economic reform program in the Kingdom and follows the announcement that women will be allowed to drive come June 2018 as the ban on female applications for driving licences was lifted.

The Gulf News report revealed that rules on film screenings have been relaxed in recent weeks with some screenings as a precursor to the official lifting of he ban.

Cinemas are expected to return to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 35 years.

Concerts and other forms of entertainment will be brought back for the country's young, which make up the majority of the population.

"Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification", said Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad.

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Many Saudis, including filmmakers, now get around the lack of cinemas by streaming movies online and watching films on satellite television. Many Saudis visit neighboring countries for vacations and leisure time.

Like most public spaces in the kingdom, cinema halls are expected to be segregated by gender or have a separate section for families.

This year, the country is again vying for an Oscar with the film "Barakah Meets Barakah", the kingdom's first romantic comedy which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.

It also did not say if the cinemas would host all major Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic releases or how heavily edited content would be.

The Ministry of Culture said it plans to have 300 cinemas with more than 2000 screens by 2030.