The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has experienced a ban on cinemas for more than 30 years. There is only one cinema in Saudi Arabia, IMAX Theater which is in Khobar. In IMAX, US produced documentaries, which are dubbed in Arabic, are aired at the non-prayer time. When there was a cabinet reshuffle and general authority of entertainment was formulated, people were hopeful that Saudi Arabia was opening its doors towards cinemas. The predictions and guesses made by commentators and newspaper were that the general authority of entertainment had only one purpose-the purpose of regulating cinemas and to act as a film censorship board. However, the news has now been confirmed, to an extent, after Khaled Al Jasser announced that Arabian center’s new malls have room for cinemas.
Khaled Al Jasser is the CEO of Arabian centers. Arabian centers are the Kingdom’s biggest mall operator. It has 19 shopping malls in the metropolitan cities while 10 fresh projects are of course. They are credited to revolutionize the retail industry in Saudi Arabia. The general authority of entertainment, under the Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030, tends to legalize cinemas. Accordingly, it will be issuing a license to open cinemas, in near future. According to Jasser, he is hopeful that the government will be issuing permits of cinemas soon. He is keenly waiting for the approval, to entertain people by using the medium of cinemas, by the state. Cinemas have been long in demand in Saudi Arabia. However, due to the ban, spectators were deprived of it.
The Kingdom’s young people were complaining on social media about not being able to watch the latest movies and superheroes. When Saudis go abroad, they (mostly) do visit such places. Therefore, there is a financial motive behind the government legalizing the cinemas in the Kingdom. As there is already an uprising demand, the cinema industry will flourish and generate revenues. Also, it will attract Saudis to spend their tourism money at home and have entertainment within the Kingdom.
According to an estimate, 1.54 million Saudis visited the United Arab Emirates in 2015. Running a budget deficit, Saudi government wants its people to spend more money home. People are hopeful that cinema industry will reach heights of success in no time. Haifaa al-Mansour, the Kingdom’s best-known film director says that he is very much optimistic about the opening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia.
The chairman of the Saudi Arabia society for culture and arts, Sultan al-Bazie declared that he is waiting for clarification of the cinemas opening news; however, people are eagerly waiting for it and are expecting them to open as everything is going in this direction. Jasser is also optimistic with the opening of cinemas and their success, he says that not only new malls have space for cinemas, but also old ones can accommodate for them. They are only waiting for a declaration to uplift ban from cinemas from the state officials.
Source: Arabian Business
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