Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban on Movie Theatres

Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban on Movie Theatres
After nearly 35 years of no cinemas, Saudi Arabia is finally lifting its lengthy ban on movie theatres. The kingdom will open its first movie theatre in 2018.

As Deadline reports, the lift on the ban was first brought up at the Future Investment Initiative conference in October. As a result of the decision, the kingdom's first theatre is expected to open in March.

In a statement, Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh 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."

The move is part of the Vision 2030 program being spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, with the plan set to build more than 300 cinemas by 2030. He's making a number of progressive moves, including a royal decree that granted women the right to drive this year.

Cinemas were banned from Saudi Arabia in 1982 after clerics put pressure on the local government. With their return, the kingdom hopes to launch its own content in years to come.