Saudis reopen cinemas - but don't expect mixed seating and sex scenes

Saudis reopen cinemas - but don't expect mixed seating and sex scenes

A 35-year ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia has been overturned as the Kingdom's efforts to liberalize gain pace, and commercial movie theaters are expected to open as soon as next March.

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".

United States cinema chain AMC Entertainment along with Saudi Arabia's vast Public Investment Fund is likely to open 300 theatres with 2000 screens by 2030, which will reportedly contribute $24 billion to the economy. Saudi authorities were bullish on the long-term prospects for the cinema business in in the Kingdom and said they anticipated 300 movie theaters opening, and there being 2,000 screens by 2030.

Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to ram through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman.

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom", Dr Alawwad said.

Saudi Arabia's movie theaters were shut down in the 1980s due to pressure from religious leaders.

Now cinemas will be allowed to open next year. Saudi female director Haifaa Al-Mansour said on Twitter.

The decision will not only help the nascent Saudi film industry but also will result in the employment of thousands of Saudis.

The move was announced Monday by the country's ministry of culture and information.

"In the entire country, I'm sure at least 10 malls are ready", he told Saudi Gazette.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has relaxed restrictions on public musical concerts in the past year - American country music star Toby Keith performed before an (all-male) audience during President Donald Trump's visit to the country in May.

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