Saudi Arabia to allow cinemas to reopen from early 2018

On Monday, Saudi Arabia lifted the 35 year ban on cinemas in the Kingdom as a part of the Crown Prince’s reforms.

The government said they would start distributing licenses immediately and the first theatres are expected to open in March 2018, a decision that will boost the Kingdom’s film industry.

The world’s leading entertainment company, AMC Entertainment has already said with the rapid modernisation of Saudi Arabia, they would be interested in expanding into Saudi.

“We would be very enthusiastic to be a part of the fabric of Saudi life,” Aron said in a session at the Misk Global Forum earlier this year.

“Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years,” the culture and information ministry said in a statement.

Fabien Riggall, founder and chief creative officer at Secret Cinema, has revealed there are a number of secret projects underway.

In line with possible new reforms, the Saudi event authority has released a portal to fast-track event permits.

“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” the statement quoted Information Minister Awwad Alawwad as saying.

“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

Saudis spent $20 billion on tourist attractions and entertainment abroad, in order to bring that money back into the Kingdom, the Public Investment Fund created an entertainment investment fund worth $2.67 billion in October this year.

Part of Vision 2030 is an aim to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% to 6% by 2030. There are further plans to reform the entertainment industry with tourism, hospitality and entertainment projects.