After nearly four decades of a ban on movie theaters, Saudi Arabia today announced it will permit cinemas in the country again.
The National Association of Theatre Owners in the U.S. is celebrating the historic decision, having developed large-scale planning for movie theaters in the Kingdom.
The move to let cinemas operate again in the desert country comes less than three months after Prince Mohammed bin Salman issued a royal decree allowing women to drive in the country for the first time ever.
The crown prince has integrated women more into the country’s economy by relaxing the country’s long-held rules, dictated by Wahhabi Islam. The country has also expanded government services women that can access without permission from their husbands or fathers, and allowed women to be elected to municipal councils.
Here is NATO’s statement on Monday:
For nearly four decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not permitted the operation of movie cinemas. Today, under the leadership and vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, cinema will return to the Kingdom.
Several NATO member companies have developed extensive plans for cinemas in the Kingdom and stand ready to develop luxurious and cutting-edge movie theaters for all Saudis to enjoy.
Led by NATO President & CEO John Fithian, a delegation from the association has been in Riyadh over the past week meeting with various government officials in anticipation of this announcement. Meeting with officials in the General Entertainment Authority and the Ministry of Information, the NATO team helped to facilitate the government’s support and proper regulation of the nascent industry.
NATO’s John Fithian stated, “We are excited to witness the opening of the Saudi cinema market. Movies are one of the great shared pleasures that highlight our common humanity. The growing and young population of the Kingdom is hungry for the cinematic experience. We anticipate that the Saudi market will grow quickly.”
Continued Fithian, “We are grateful for the leadership of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the hard work of the excellent staff of the General Entertainment Authority and the Ministry of Information. It has been an honor to play a small part in facilitating this historic decision.”