In a bid to make life a wee bit entertaining for Saudi’s men and women, the kingdom is now set to reopen its first cinema in more than 35 years. The grand opening is on April 18 in capital Riyadh. The cinema will host both men and women, the authorities said this week.
A source told Reuters that movie-goers would be delighted with the move. The plan is to have more than 40 theatres built over the next five years.
If sources are to be believed, women will not be excluded from the audience. The first screening will be Marvel’s superhero movie ‘Black Panther’
‘Black Panther’ is not quite the first film to be shown in Saudi Arabia since the ban on cinemas was lifted. In January, a number of films, aimed at children, were shown at a makeshift theatre in Jiddah at an event sponsored by the Saudi government. According to Reuters, among the films shown was ‘The Emoji Movie’, an animated film about an imaginary city called Textopolis.
The landmark decision aims to give women access to most public places in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom. “The restoration of cinemas will … help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the Kingdom,” Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement.
Till now, Saudis are banned from watching Hollywood films and television series at public places. However, they are widely watched at home and discussed behind closed doors. The country had some cinemas in the 1970s but its powerful clerics closed them.
However, since 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been pushing the government to lift the ban as part of several ambitious economic and social reforms. He has been striving to bring fundamental rights to women. Clearly, winds of change are blowing in the Saudi Kingdom!