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Saudi Arabia begins showing films after ban lifted

Saudi Arabia began showing full-length animated children's films this weekend in an improvised theater after the conservative Islamic kingdom abolished a 35-year ban on cinemas.

15.Jan.18 11:03 PM
By Daria Zaytseva


Saudi Arabia begins showing films after ban lifted

The first permanent theaters could open in March, part of the liberalizing reform, which has already opened the doors to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers over the past year.
At the moment, the authorities are sponsoring temporary conditions, such as the state cultural hall in the city of Jeddah in the Red Sea, equipped with a projector, red carpet and a machine for popcorn.

The cinemas were banned in the early 1980s under the pressure of Islamists, as Saudi society turned to a particularly conservative form of religion that interfered with public entertainment and social mixing between men and women.

But reforms carried out by the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have weakened many of these restrictions, as the government is trying to expand the economy and reduce dependence on oil.

In agreement with the Conservatives, the films will be censored to make sure that they remain in accordance with the "moral values" of the kingdom.

Thousands of Saudis are currently traveling to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other countries for entertainment. The government wants to save the money spent on those trips.

The authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, creating the hope of an industry that will invest more than 90 billion rials ($24 billion) in the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.

Regional and international cinematographic networks are also looking the Saudi market, seeking to tap the resources of the power of young people, who make up about 70 percent of the population.

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