Only VIPs to attend as Saudi Arabia launches first new cinema

Posted April 19, 2018

Disney's blockbuster "Black Panther" will be shown at a test screening in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, officially lifting a 35-year-long ban on movie theaters in the country.

However, women in Saudi Arabia still have limited rights. "The UAE is dissatisfied with Saudi policies", he said.

"One that is open for tourism, business, and less dependent on oil", he said. But that restriction is also slowly being relaxed.

Men and women will also be allowed to sit together at the initial screening and during showings for the general public, according to CNN.

KAFD, which is hosting the first AMC Cinemas complex, is Saudi Arabia's Central Business District which will provide modern, integrated and mixed-use areas, comprising high quality office, residential and hospitality space.

"Saudi policies are failing both domestically and overseas, especially in Lebanon", the Jordanian envoy said, informing his government after meeting his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi, according to a document released on September 28, 2017.

Movie theatres were banned in the country in the early 1980s, after unrest in 1979 which saw more than 20 people killed in Shi'Ite minority demonstrations against the Sunni rulers.

In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban in part to retain money that Saudis now spend on entertainment during trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere.

"For those that would like to come and enjoy watching the movie at the movie theatre, they are more than welcome", he said.

"We made a proposal to the (previous US) Obama administration that if the US were to send forces... then Saudi Arabia would consider along with other countries sending forces as part of this contingent", he said.

Three more screens at KAFD's theatre will open in the third quarter of 2018, marking the beginning of a partnership that could see 30 to 40 cinemas in approximately 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 Saudi cities by 2030.

Vox Cinemas and Novo Cinemas, both based in the United Arab Emirates, are interested in expanding across the border into the new, potentially much bigger, Saudi market.

Saudi Arabia said past year that movies "will be subject to censorship according to media policy standards of the Kingdom", to ensure they comply with Saudi values and principles and do not contradict Sharia, or Islamic, law.

Mr. Dawood added: "The entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia holds incredible promise and we are firmly committed to seeing the exciting world of global, regional and Saudi filmmaking featured in cinemas in every major city in the Kingdom, as set out in Vision 2030".

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants".