Saudis will soon be able to take in a movie after dinner. In the latest reform-minded move, Saudi Arabia announced Monday plans to open movie theaters in the new year. They have been closed for 35 years after the restrictive regime of 1980s sought ways to insulate its people from Western ideas and lifestyles captured on film. Even movies produced in other Arab countries were subject to censorship.
The initiative is the latest example of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman progressing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century through a wave of social legislation that includes allowing women to drive and approving music concerts. He apparently has support from his father, King Salman, to address a number of social reforms.
“It’s spectacular news. We are in a state of shock,” Saudi actor and producer Hisham Fageeh tweeted.
Although bin Salman is appealing to Saudi youth with the loosening of societal controls, his reform program, dubbed Vision 2030, will also provide some financial incentives as the oil market continues to be subject to wild fluctuation.
Theater-goers are expected to be lining up in March 2018 when movie houses will again be licensed.