Cinema is back in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom announced the reopening of its movie theatres in early 2018, repealing a ban put in place over 35 years ago.
The decision, which has been pending for several months, is part of economic and social reforms instilled by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman through his Vision 2030 program.
“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” said the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, in a statement. 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.”
A preexisting cinema industry in Saudi Arabia
Cinemas banning in the country did not prevent the Saudi seventh art from existing and even from being exported. Mahmoud Sabbagh’s Barakah meets Barakah, a comedy released in 2016, was screened at the Berlinale, and Haifaa Al-Mansour‘s drama Wadjda competed in the 2013 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.