Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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SAUDI TO OPEN A NEW DOOR FOR CINEMAS AFTER THREE DECADES

Saudi Arabia announced on December 11  it will allow movie theatres to open in the conservative kingdom next year, for the first time in more than 35 years, in the latest social push by the country’s young crown prince.
It’s the latest stark reversal in a county where movie theaters were shut down in the 1980’s during a wave of ultraconservatism in the country. Many of Saudi Arabia’s clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.
Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to ram through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman. The crown prince is behind measures such as lifting a ban on women driving next year and bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment to satiate the desires of the country’s majority young population.
The 32-year-old heir to the throne’s social push is part of his so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for the country that aims to boost local spending and create jobs amid sustained lower oil prices.
According to Monday’s announcement, a resolution was passed paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters, with the first cinemas expected to open in March 2018.
Many Saudis took to Twitter to express their joy at the news, posting images of buckets of movie theater popcorn and moving graphics of people dancing, fainting and crying.
“It’s spectacular news. We are in a state of shock,” said Saudi actor and producer, Hisham Fageeh. Fageeh starred in and co-produced the Saudi film “Barakah Meets Barakah” by director Mahmoud Sabbagh, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

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