AMC Theatres, an American movie theater chain, is set to open Saudi Arabia’s first-ever movie theater since the country decided to lift a 35-year cinema ban implemented in the 1980s, CNN Money reports.
Following Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent trip to Los Angeles, during which he shared plans to modernize Saudi society, AMC has been granted a license by the Saudi Ministry of Culture (SMC) to open a theater in Riyadh on April 18. (RELATED: Here’s The Deal With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Effort To Modernize Saudi Arabia)
Other efforts by the Saudi Crown Prince to modernize the country include allowing women to drive cars and taking power away from Islamic radicals and Sharia law, specifically within schools.
AMC will be competing with other cinemas in Saudi Arabia, including theaters operated by United Arab Emirates corporations Vox Cinemas and Novo Cinemas, which “already cater to the region by subtitling movies in Arabic and removing scenes of a sexual nature,” CNN money says.
The movie industry is expected to bring about $1 billion into the country over the next several years.
Due to the radically conservative rules Saudi Arabia has operated on in the past few decades, the nation’s citizens, about 60 percent of which are under 30 years old, have been traveling out-of-country to experience simple pleasures like unfiltered cinema and other types of entertainment.
Bringing movie theaters into the country will hopefully encourage Saudis to experience entertainment within the kingdom’s borders. As CNN explains, “The government is investing billions in the entertainment sector, hoping it will act as a catalyst for economic growth, create new employment and investment opportunities, and provide Saudis with a wider range of entertainment options.”
“Black Panther,” will be the opening film, in a theater furnished with luxurious leather seats, marble bathrooms, an orchestra, and balcony levels.