00:35 GMT +317 December 2018
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    Moviegoers wait to attend an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Vision 2030 in Action: First Cinema Opens in Saudi Arabia After 35-Year Ban

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    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign to breath fresh “liberal” air into the highly conservative Kingdom is well underway.

    Saudi Arabia has officially launched its first cinema, putting an end to a nearly 40-year ban on movie theaters with an invitation-only event that attracted senior government officials, foreign diplomatic workers, influential businessmen and journalists.

    READ MORE: Saudi Arabia Screens Emoji Movie After Decades of Cinema Ban

    The grand opening was overseen by the Saudi Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC) together with the largest movie exhibition company in the US, AMC Entertainment, which had organized a red carpet gala before the guests could watch Marvel’s superhero movie “Black Panther” on the big screen in a 450-seat hall in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

    “The return of cinemas to Saudi Arabia marks an important moment in the Kingdom’s modern day history and cultural life, as well as in the development of the Kingdom’s entertainment industry. Today, we mark a major step in fulfilling our commitment to improving the lives of all in the Kingdom, a key pillar of Vision 2030. Cinema has always played an important role in bringing cultures together and Saudi Arabia is ready to play its part,” Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said.

    While the Ministry of Culture and Information highly praised the historic opening, some religious clerics with conservative leanings consider foreign movies and cinema as a whole inconsistent with Islam.

    READ MORE: ‘Black Panther’ Opening: Saudi Arabia Lifting Decades-Long Ban on Movie Theaters

    Social media is practically bursting at the seams with pictures from the grand movie theater opening in Riyadh:

    One social media user couldn’t help but imagine how modern cinemas in conservative Saudi Arabia would actually look like:

    The move comes as part of the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 program, aimed at the modernization of the Kingdom’s society through all-encompassing reforms in multiple spheres, including entertainment and sports, which opens wide opportunities for women, too.

    Related:

    ‘Black Panther’ Opening: Saudi Arabia Lifting Decades-Long Ban on Movie Theaters
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    Vision 2030, cinemas, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia
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