UAE works on breaking up with Saudi Arabia, according to diplomatic leaks

Posted April 19, 2018

It's not clear whether "Black Panther" will undergo a similar censorship for Wednesday's screening, which will be attended by diplomats, industry insiders, the press and the CEO of AMC Entertainment, Adam Aron.

In December, Saudi Arabia lifted its decades-long cinema ban, a move announced by Awwad Alawwad, Saudi's minister of culture and information.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman leaves the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France, April 9, 2018.

It's a stark reversal for a county where public movie screenings were banned in the 1980's during a wave of ultraconservatism that swept Saudi Arabia.

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However, women in Saudi Arabia still have limited rights.

"Saudis now are going to be able to go to a handsome theater and watch movies the way they're supposed to be watched: on a big screen", he told Reuters ahead of the screening.

The prince, 32, has already eased restrictions in the last two years including on public concerts, women driving and gender mixing.

The Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), on Wednesday oversaw the historic launch of the Kingdom's first public cinema in collaboration with AMC Entertainment at a newly set up cinema complex at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh.

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A special panel at the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference, organised in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, will examine the economic impact of the growth of this new sector, the contribution to job creation and the investment opportunities for global investors.

Many Saudis have rejoiced at the end of the cinema ban, sharing praise and pictures of Prince Mohammed on social media.

Others expressed confusion at what they called the government's about-face on cinemas' permissibility, with one tweeting: "Remember you will stand in front of God ... and you will bear the sins of all those who watched the movies". Some also view cinema and acting, as a form of dissembling, as inconsistent with Islam. Initial screenings are likely to be for families, with occasional ones for bachelors.

"We greatly look forward to serving the people of Saudi Arabia with truly world-class theaters all across the Kingdom".

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"There is worldwide interest in the growth of Saudi Arabia's cultural sector both from a social perspective but also as a significant investment opportunity".