Saudi to open first mixed-sex cinema

06 April 2018, 03:24 | Santos Harmon

Speed Reads

AMC to open first cinema in Saudi Arabia in two weeks

Saudi Arabia's royal family and religious establishment adhere to an austere form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, and Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are strictly enforced.

Entertainment, the largest cinema chain in the United States, has announced that it will be the first cinema company to open a commercial theatre in Saudi Arabia after the conservative kingdom recently lifted a 35-year ban.

This decision is part of the many economic and social reforms being pushed by the new Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

MBS, as he's known by his abbreviation, has been on a whirlwind US tour drumming up American investment.

Technically, Black Panther isn't the first film to be shown post-ban, that honor actually belongs to The Emoji Movie.

No word what other films will follow as content will undoubtedly be strictly monitored.

This will enable AMC, working alongside the Development and Investment Entertainment Company, to open its first cinema in Riyadh as early as 18 April. "If we can open up to 100 movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, in a country where there is literally no capacity now, we think the market will have staggering levels of pent-up demand".

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Saudi Arabia's highest-ranking cleric warned in January, 2017 of the "depravity" of cinemas, saying they would corrupt morals.

"The Saudi market is very large, with the majority of the population. eager to watch their favourite films here at home".

There are no commercial theatres in Saudi Arabia and plans to open them present challenges for the conservative kingdom, such as whether men and women can sit together and what types of movies will play.

The source also said that cinemas would not be segregated by gender, as is normally required in public venues.

"The restoration of cinemas will. help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the kingdom", Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement.

In terms of the types of films, he said that AMC will exhibit all major releases from Hollywood studios that "are appropriate for the Middle East".

Separately, Six Flags Entertainment said it planned to develop a theme park in Riyadh in partnership with PIF.



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