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.
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.
Social media is practically bursting at the seams with pictures from the grand movie theater opening in Riyadh:
Saudi Arabia Breaks 35 Year Cinema Ban With Historic 'Black Panther' Screening pic.twitter.com/qh3t7YQTvV— MoorInfo (@MoorInformation) 19 апреля 2018 г.
Red carpet? Red dress? More from inside the first cinema opening in Saudi Arabia happening now pic.twitter.com/pvDYKXuxwj— Aya Batrawy (@ayaelb) 18 апреля 2018 г.
One social media user couldn’t help but imagine how modern cinemas in conservative Saudi Arabia would actually look like:
LOOOOL twitter remains undefeated 😂😂apparently this is how Saudi Arabia cinemas are gonna be now that the cinema ban has been lifted😭😭 pic.twitter.com/PJSZCyR49h— Simba Turgut Alp (@DeRozenDntCare) 10 апреля 2018 г.
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.