Cinemas to return in Saudi Arabia after 35 years, confirms Ministry of Information
Saudi Arabia : Saudi Arabia will be able to watch movies in its own country after 35 years, announced by the country's young crown prince.
Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said in a statement that the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, had started the process, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first movie theatre is expected to open in March 2018. Saudi Arabia had shut all cinema halls in the 1980's during a wave of ultra-conservatism in the country. Many of Saudi Arabia's clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt as sinful.
The move is part of a series of reforms as part of the 2030 economic vision that also includes a war on corruption.
The changes are also intended to gain up to a quarter of the $20 billion currently spent overseas by Saudis, who are accustomed to travelling abroad to see shows and visit amusement parks.
Saudi Arabia in recent months has organised concerts, a Comic-Con pop culture festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing on the streets to electronic music for the first time.
Despite there being no movie theatres in Saudi Arabia, young Saudi filmmakers have received government support and recognition in recent years.
The government has backed a Saudi film festival that's taken place for the past few years in the eastern city of Dhahran. This year, some 60 Saudi films were screened.
The film "Wadjda" made history in 2013 by becoming the first Academy Award entry for Saudi Arabia, though it wasn't nominated for the Oscars.
(with input from Agencies)