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Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban on Movie Theaters

In efforts to overhaul its society and image after decades of strict rules, Saudi Arabia will be allowing cinemas to open for the first time in 35 years.

Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said today, “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.”

Saudi’s earlier cinemas were closed in 1982 after clerics persuaded the government to do so and this return falls within the Vision 2030 program helmed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud who is seen as a progressive — a royal decree this year granted women the right to drive.

Additionally, while censorship could be an issue, the General Entertainment Authority has previously said there is a desire to create entertainment that “will be like 99% of what is going on in London and New York.”

With the first movie houses expected to open in March, an estimate of over 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens are projected by 2030.

This article was originally written by Renz Ofiaza for Highsnobiety