Saudi Arabia lifts ban on public cinemas, to screen films from March

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The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, today lifted a decade long ban on public cinemas. The lifting of the ban is seen as part of the new reforms being done by the crown prince.

According to the Saudi government officials the licensing of the cinemas would begin in March.

Despite reservation from those in the kingdom who see theatres as vulgar and sinful, the move is to go ahead.

In a statement, the culture and information ministry said that, “Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.”

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Like most public spaces in the kingdom, cinema halls are expected to be segregated by gender or have a separate section for families.

Hardliners, who see cinemas as a threat to cultural and religious identity, were instrumental in shutting them down in the 1980s.

Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric warned in January of the “depravity” of cinemas, saying they would corrupt morals.

Saudi Arabia in recent months has organised music concerts, a Comic-Con pop culture festival and a mixed-gender national day celebration that saw people dancing in the streets to thumping electronic music for the first time.

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Saudis themselves appear quietly astounded by the torrid pace of change, including the historic decision allowing women to drive from next June.


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