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Posted: December 11, 2017

Saudi Arabia ends 35-year ban on movie theaters

Movie screens will be returning to Saudia Arabia after a 35-year absence.
Kristian Dowling/Getty Images
Movie screens will be returning to Saudia Arabia after a 35-year absence.

By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A night at the movies will soon become a reality for citizens of Saudi Arabia, as the country is lifting a ban that has been in effect for more than 35 years, CNN reported Monday.

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Early next year, commercial movie theaters will be granted licenses, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement. It expects the first cinemas to open their doors in March.

"This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom," Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said in the statement.

The government hopes that opening movie theaters will spark economic growth and create more job opportunities, while providing Saudis with more entertainment options, CNN reported.

There are few entertainment attractions in Saudi Arabia. Many of its citizens visit neighboring countries for vacations and leisure time, CNN reported, and the Saudi government wants more of those people to spend their money at home.

The Ministry of Culture said it plans to have 300 cinemas with more than 2000 screens by 2030, CNN reported. The movies need to be subtitled in Arabic, and censorship of nudity is likely, CNN reported.

Novo Cinemas, based in the United Arab Emirates, is already considering the opportunity.

"We are absolutely studying our options to enter the Saudi market ... it's an important market," CEO Debbie Kristiansen told CNN.

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