After an over thirty-five year ban, Saudi Arabia will lift restrictions and allow cinemas into the country as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s series of social reforms in the country’s post-oil era.
Like most public spaces in the kingdom, cinema halls are expected to be segregated by gender or have a separate section for families. Conservatives have long vilified cinemas as a threat to cultural and religious identity, and were key to shutting them down in the 1980s.
However sweeping reforms are moving in fast following Salman’s pledge for an ‘open, moderate Islam’ and desire to destroy extremist ideologies festering in the kingdom. The government will begin licensing cinemas immediately with the first movie theatres expected to open next March.