12:55 GMT +319 July 2018
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    A Saudi woman uses her cell phone to take a selfie photograph with a cosplayer dressed as the Beast from Disney's 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast film, as they attend the first ever Comic-Con Arabia event held in the capital Riyadh

    Social Reforms Continue: Saudi Arabia to Open Cinemas After 35 Year Ban

    © AFP 2018 / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has of late taken unprecedented moves to modernize the country, with the most recent move including lifting the ban on movie theaters.

    After more than 35 years Saudi Arabia will allow movie theaters to open all around the kingdom. The latest move is in tune with the reformist mission that the young Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has embarked on.

    The resolution was passed on Monday heralding licenses to be given to commercial movie theaters, decades after all cinemas were shuttered in the 1980's during a wave of ultraconservatism in the country.

    "Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years," the culture and information ministry said in a statement.

    The country is expected to have more than 300 cinemas with over 2,000 screens by 2030, the ministry said.

    Earlier Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had spoken out in favor of returning to "moderate Islam."

    He has been pushing for socio-cultural reforms which include lifting the ban on women driving in the country and allowing women to attend sports events at stadiums.

    "We will return to the former state or affairs, to moderate Islam, which is open to the world, and all other religions. We will not wait for 30 years, we will swiftly deal a blow to extremist ideologies," the crown prince said during the Future Investment Initiative forum held in Riyadh in October.

    In September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a royal decree permitting Saudi women to drive cars, for the first time in history of the country. The decree is set to come into effect in June, 2018.

    The Saudi authorities will also start renovating the main stadiums in the cities’ of Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah to be ready to receive families starting in 2018.

    According to the Arab News newspaper earlier in October, President of the Saudi Olympic Committee, Turki Al-Asheikh, appointed Princess Reema bint Bandar president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.

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    culture, cinemas, reforms, movie, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia
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