On Monday, Saudi authorities decided to allow the opening of cinemas after a ban that lasted for more than three decades.
According to the website of the Ministry of Culture and Information of Saudi Arabia, “at its meeting today (Monday), the Board of Directors of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, headed by the Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, approved the issuance of licenses for those who are willing to open cinemas in the Kingdom.”
The licenses’ issuance is due to begin after the completion of the preparation of the regulations that are related to the organization of audio-visual movies in public places within a period of no more than 90 days.
In a press statement, the Ministry of Culture and Information said that “The General Commission for Audiovisual Media, the official regulator of the sector, will begin preparing the steps of the necessary executive procedures to open cinema rooms in the Kingdom.”
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The Ministry added: “The movies’ content will be subject to censorship according to the Kingdom’s media policy standards.” It also confirmed that “the movies will be in line with the values and established norms, including the provision of meaningful content that does not conflict with the Sharia provisions and does not violate the ethical considerations in the Kingdom.”
The ministry’s website stated that “Working in the film industry will have an economic impact that will increase the size of the media market, stimulate economic growth and diversification by contributing with more than 90 billion Saudi riyals (25 billion dollars) to the GDP, and create more than 30,000 permanent jobs, in addition to more than 130,000 temporary jobs by 2030.
Some of the spread movies in the past led to accusations against the entire film industry of promoting violations to Sharia laws and introducing deviant cultures that did not conform to the state’s regime and did go in line with the values of their society. This was a major reason for the gradual closure of the cinemas, which led to their complete disappearance in the mid-1980s.
The last attempts to open cinemas were made by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal in February 2009 through the movie Menahi, which was shown in Riyadh, in the first public cinema show in the history of the capital as an unprecedented event in the theatre of King Fahad Cultural Centre, which has a capacity of 3,000 spectators. However, many pressures have led to its closure.