After 35-year ban, Saudi Arabia to reopen cinemas in 2018

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah
After 35-year ban, Saudi Arabia to reopen cinemas in 2018
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13 December, 2017

But authorities appear to be shrugging off the threat.Saudi filmmakers have long argued that a ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube.Saudi films have been making waves overseas, using the internet to circumvent distribution channels and sometimes the stern gaze of state censors.

The ministry added that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information announced on December 11 that it would allow cinemas to operate beginning in early 2018, 35 years after Risky Business and Flashdance made a splash in theaters.

The kingdom said there will be 300 cinemas by 2030, although it was not clear whether most major Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic releases would be shown and how heavily edited the content will be. While the March 2018 start date means Saudi Arabian crowds will miss out on the big-screen perfection that is Lady Bird, here's hoping they'll get a chance to weigh in on whatever movies rule the Western box office next summer.

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Cinemas had been closed down in the 1980s as a reaction to the mixing of men and women in public.

The move was highly welcomed by filmmaking community, who have long argued that ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube. Even movies produced in other Arab countries were subject to censorship.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tightened his grip on power through overturning established social norms in the kingdom since his rise to power in 2015.

Saudi Arabia plans to end its 35-year ban on movie theaters early next year as part of a package of social reforms by the crown prince, according to Agence France-Presse. However, he has also arrested several clerics and activists and detained senior princes and businessmen in what the government calls an anti-corruption campaign.


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