Monday, 11 December 2017

Saudi Arabia to allow commercial cinemas to reopen from early 2018

Saudi Arabia has announced it will lift a ban on commercial cinemas that has lasted more than three decades.

The ministry of culture and information said it would begin issuing licences immediately and that the first cinemas were expected to open in March 2018.

The measure is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 social and economic reform programme.

The conservative Muslim kingdom had cinemas in the 1970s, but clerics persuaded authorities to close them.

As recently as January, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh reportedly warned of the "depravity" of cinemas, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed.
Saudi Arabia's royal family and religious establishment adhere to an austere form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, and Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are strictly enforced.

A statement issued by the culture ministry on Monday said the decision to license cinemas was "central to the government's programme to encourage an open and rich domestic culture for Saudis".

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom," Culture Minister Awwad Alawwad said.

"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."

BBC     News.

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